Alexander Quan moved to the UK from his home in the Seychelles to study, with every intention of returning once his studies were completed, but his plans changed quite unexpectedly on his 38th birthday.  

During the routine walk home after dropping his 10-year-old son off at school in Lyme Regis, Alex was left fighting for his life when a 7.5 tonne Royal Mail van crashed into him on the pavement, propelling him through the front windows of a hotel.  

The last memory he has is hearing the loud screeching of tyres before losing consciousness. The force of the impact from the moving vehicle thrust Alex through the hotel window and into the lobby where he became pinned under the rubble where he sustained life-changing injuries. 

I woke up to see the front of the vehicle towering over me and a passer-by, who happened to be a nurse, sat with me until the emergency services arrived.  

'My right leg had been amputated by the force of the truck pushing me through the window so I could see with my own eyes how bad the situation was. If it were not for the Devon Air Ambulance crew, I would have died due to blood loss.’ 

The scene of Alex. Image credit to ArchantBefore our Critical Care Paramedics could enter the building, the Fire service had to ensure it was safe to do so as the impact of the crash had damaged the hotel's structural integrity, making it too dangerous for anyone to enter the lobby to help.

Once stable, our crew entered the scene. In a difficult environment, the team immediately began to assess and treat his injuries, working to stem the bleeding, stabilise his injured left leg and simultaneously manage his pain. 

The helicopter was standing by and was ready to convey Alex to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. Due to his extensive injuries, upon his arrival, Alex was placed into an induced coma for 10 days. Sadly, one month after the incident and despite the best efforts of the medical teams, Alex’s left leg also had to be amputated.  

During his time in hospital, Alex was visited by an ex-marine who later became a big part of his motivation for recovery and a good friend. Like Alex, he had also lost both of his legs during conflict in the Middle East five years earlier.  

‘Seeing him walk and getting back to normal inspired me so much. He was there for a lot of sessions pushing me on. It was not easy, but I did it because it was the only way forward. There was no use in dwelling over what had happened.’

Within weeks of being discharged from hospital, Alex began his recovery journey, including attending numerous physiotherapy sessions at Exeter Mobility Centre. To begin with, Alex attended these sessions in his wheelchair, giving his injuries time to heal ahead of being cast for prosthetics and being ready to bear weight on them.  

I got my first prosthetics about two months after I came out of hospital and had to start to learn to walk on them. It was really hard at first because I had to learn how to walk all over again. The team at Exeter Mobility Centre were great and with the support of my wife, who attended each session with me, and after a lot of falls and getting back up again, we eventually got through it.

Around a year after the incident, Alex was able to walk unaided using his prosthetics and he then set his focus on returning to the gym and being able to drive again.

It could have been much worse, if it wasn’t for the air ambulance crew arriving when they did. I’m now back to living a 90% normal life, even driving, and trying to continue with everything that I did before the incident.

Three years after this life-changing experience, Alex was invited to attend a Devon Air Ambulance airbase visit where he had theImage credit to Archant. Former patient Alex has made an impressive recovery with his two prosthetic legs opportunity to see the helicopter up close, speak with the crew, learn more about the charity and its operations and share his heartfelt gratitude for their life-saving actions that day.  

It was a very surreal experience, but I wanted to thank the crew very much for saving my life.

As prosthetic legs need to be serviced regularly, much like a car, this new way of living has meant that Alex, his wife, and son have had to make their temporary move to the UK a permanent one.

Now, 13-years after this life-changing incident, Alex and his family have transformed their home, installing a home lift so that he can move around his home independently. Alex feels incredibly lucky to be alive and is proud of where he is now. This has not only taken years of rehabilitation and hard work to achieve but is a credit to Alex’s perseverance and his positive can-do attitude towards his recovery. Thank you, Alex, for sharing your incredible story with us.  

Alex's recovery has been a challenging one, but without the support of Devon Air Ambulance it could have been far worse. Are you a former Devon Air Ambulance patient with a story you would like to share? You could help more people to support our service when you get in touch.

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Image credits to Archant.