When George Bladon set off from Okehampton for a day of Dartmoor hiking with friends and family, he never could have imagined it would be the day he would need our assistance. 

Conditions were ideal for walking, so George and his group of experienced explorers planned a hike that would take them to Great Links Tor. 

When George, his cousin and friends finally arrived at the Tor, George decided to climb a little higher to take in the amazing views but he lost balance on an awkward rock, falling into a deep gully and landing on his back on a ledge.

‘As I was falling,' George said, 'Time seemed to slow down, and I had plenty of time to think why did I do that? and This is going to hurt... but the bizarre thing is that as I landed, I wasn’t in any pain.’ 

George’s family and friends came to his aid and could see immediately that he was in a bad way and needed urgent help. George had broken his leg in several places and suffered open fractures. His cousin remained calm and called 999.

George and companions on Dartmoor

Pinpointing the precise location

Using the What3Words app, which, luckily, they had only downloaded for the first time the day before, the group were able to give an exact location for our aircrew to quickly locate George’s exact position. George said: 

‘It was such a relief to hear the helicopter approaching because I knew the professionals were on their way to help me,’ said George. 

On their arrival the crew began to assess George’s injuries. Due to his position between the rocks it was a possibility that he may have also sustained spinal injuries from the impact of hitting the rocks, thankfully this was not the case. The crew were preparing George for the journey ahead in a very confined space insuring his injured leg was fully supported, and the open fractures dressed to prevent infection. Soon George was ready to be conveyed to Derriford Major Trauma Centre in Plymouth.

I was amazed at how small the inside of the helicopter was once there was me in there with crew and all their kit. Everything has its place and the crew have everything they need to hand to use throughout the journey.

Five days after arriving at Derriford Hospital, George began his journey to recovery, undergoing x-rays, and several operations to reposition broken bones. This included orthopedic surgery, followed by numerous muscle and skin grafts with the plastic surgery team. In total, George spent two weeks in hospital before he was able to go home.

George, who lived alone in Bristol, was able to move in with his cousin to Weston-Super-Mare for the next four months to aid his recovery and get the help and extra care that he needed. While chatting to George, he told us that his recovery was tough to begin with, especially as he loved to be out walking and would now need to rest his leg for some considerable time.  

I have been getting better every day, week, and month with lots of exercise. I enjoy going on walks and have been building that up over time and I have just started attending gym classes too.

Now, several months on from his incident, George remains in contact with our Advanced Prehospital Practitioner, Josh, who was one member of our crew that assisted him back in April 2023. ‘I am happy to share my story to highlight the great work that you do,' said George.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, George, we are happy that you are on the road to recovery and hope you will be able to enjoy beautiful Dartmoor again soon.

Our patients' stories help more people to learn about our lifesaving service and we are grateful to every patient who is willing to share theirs. Got a story to share? We'd love to hear form you

About What 3 Words

When it’s hard to describe where you are in an emergency, you only need to read out three words for 999 to know exactly where to find the incident.

What3words is an application that helps a user share their precise location. The app divides the world into units of three metre-squared. Attributed to each unit is a unique three-word address that will never change, irrespective of how the landscape in which that grid falls changes. For example, lease.cotton.spine marks the door to the reception of Devon Air Ambulance Head Office.

How is Devon Air Ambulance using the What3Words app?

Our HEMs dispatchers use the three words given to them when receiving a call and translate these into the coordinates they need to direct the emergency aircraft to the precise location where our critical care team is needed. For those who are calling for help from remote locations and might not have grid references to hand, this application can be especially useful.

Download the What3Words app today to ensure emergency crews can find you in the event of an accident or incident, even in remote rural locations.