Just two months after a serious, life-changing motorcycle accident, Jack Smiddy came along to DAA’s first ever Dragon Boat Festival on Exeter Quay to cheer on his brother, Ed, and the team from Paritor and Crisp Professional Development. Ed was taking part to support the charity that had saved Jack’s life.

In July 2014 Jack was riding between Dawlish and Starcross when he was involved in an accident with a car. Jack suffered a fractured pelvis and significant injuries to his right leg and ankle. Speaking after the incident, Air Ambulance paramedic Darren Goodwin explained that Jack’s accident had been an incredible example of all the emergency services working together: with fire crews, a land ambulance crew, a BASICS doctor AND the aircrew all in attendance.

Having a BASICS doctor (British Association for Immediate Care, offering skilled medical help at the site of an accident or medical emergency) at the scene,  enabled Darren to administer Ketamine under supervision.  “The injuries to Jack’s leg were severe, including the degloving and partial severing of his ankle,” explained Darren. “We had to make Jack as ‘comfortable’ as we could before we conveyed him to Derriford Hospital. Ketamine offers powerful pain relief and allowed us to move him whilst also monitoring all his other injuries.”

Sadly, it became apparent during surgery that Jack’s leg could not be saved and it was amputated above the knee. Jack remained in Derriford for two weeks and had 13 further surgical prodecures at Torbay Hospital during the following six months. He was wheelchair-bound during that time whilst undergoing intense physiotherapy.

As his physical strength returned, however, Jack was keen to get used to a prosthetic limb. Having previously been a very keen footballer, however,  Jack realised that some things would have to change! Clearly adopting a very positive approach, Jack investigated new sporting options and now  regularly plays disability cricket and wheelchair basketball.

Speaking to Helipad recently, Jack explained, “It was tough to start with and a lot to get my head round. When I came along to the first Dragon Boat Festival I was still trying to come to terms with everything that had happened – although supporting Devon Air Ambulance was never in question! I am eternally grateful for their help that day. But I definitely have a different outlook on life now. I  make the most of life every day and I don’t take anything for granted. It’s all good now, I’m very used to using my prosthetic leg and it doesn’t stop me doing anything. With a new baby this summer bringing our family to four daughters, life is certainly never dull!”

We're delighted that Jack's experience inspired fundraising from his family. If you would like to support our patients then find out more about our annual fundraising events - or why not set up your own?