This was how Margaret Paramore from Woodgate near Culmstock described her accident earlier this year.

Margaret (82) and her husband John (87) had been in their garden cutting trees for firewood when, in Margaret’s words, 'The chainsaw went into a massive wobble and flew up, catching my face in its path.' The incident caused severe facial injuries, for which Margaret needed emergency help.

With Margaret bleeding profusely, John had to leave her at the scene to seek help before getting as many clean towels as possible to stem the flow of blood. The couple’s relief at the arrival of the First Responder and land ambulance crew was swiftly followed by further relief at the sound of the Air Ambulance landing in a neighbouring field.

“I was conscious throughout,” explained Margaret. “I even remember saying to the paramedics that I needed to spend a penny before I could go anywhere!”

All the medics on scene worked together to assist Margaret, and aware of the blood that she was still losing, the Air Ambulance team realised that it would be safer to transfer her to hospital by land ambulance so that Margaret could remain seated, instead of her laying on a stretcher in the helicopter. Along with aircrew paramedic, Chris Saunders, Margaret left by road to head for Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

John followed by car. He waited for three hours in A&E before being advised that Margaret would be in surgery most of the night and that he would be better off coming back the next day. 

It was absolutely horrible,” John said. “It had been such a terrible shock. I could see that the chainsaw had gone right down to the bone of Margaret’s nose, and it was only her glasses that had saved the blades from taking out her eyes. I still get flashbacks now.

During a six-hour operation, surgeons rebuilt Margaret’s nose.  Her first memory after the journey to hospital was waking up in Intensive Care the following day. Her first thought was for her husband of 63 years.

I really felt sorry for poor John – who saw the whole thing happen. It was just one of those things but because I’m on blood thinners, the blood loss was terrible.

Since the accident, in March 2020, Margaret’s injuries have largely healed, with just a slight hare lip to contend with.

“It makes eating awkward,” explained Margaret, “But I’ve been advised that I will be able to have it repaired when the Covid-19 virus is behind us. Without the expert help I had at the scene and in hospital, things could have been a whole lot worse.”

Since coming out of hospital 9 days later, just ahead of lockdown, Margaret and John have spent the last few months at their home, with food and supplies being delivered by family members. They are now champing at the bit to get back out on their bicycles. Both are former top-amateur road racing champions and have missed the freedom of the open road since Margaret’s accident and the pandemic began.

Despite both being octogenarians, they still have plenty more miles to do before they hang up their bike helmets and, from everyone at Devon Air Ambulance, we wish them both well.

It is thanks to our incredible supporters that we are able to deliver urgent and specialist critical care to patients at the scene. As Margaret's story illustrates, sometimes it is better for the patient to be attended by our critical care paramedics in a land ambulance rather than airlifted. We welcome your continued support to help keep us attending.