Air ambulance staff who treated biker critically hurt in horror crash 'saved family's Christmas'

A motorcyclist today told how he was saved by London’s Air Ambulance medics after coming off his bike at speed and colliding with an oncoming HGV.

Robert Handleigh, 27, a father of two, “thought he was just winded” after crashing into the lorry on a narrow country lane in Enfield at about 40mph as he rode home after a night-shift - writes

By chance, an air ambulance fast-response car was nearby and took over from a London Ambulance crew.

They spotted that one of his lungs had collapsed and the other had filled with blood, and performed a life-saving procedure in the road to ensure he was alive on arrival at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel.

Robert Handleigh , 27, with fiancee Jemma , daughter Elsie, 3, and Joshua, 18 months (collect)

He spent seven weeks in hospital, including a fortnight in an induced coma, and had to have one of his kidneys removed because it was so badly damaged.

Today, as he told his story in support of London’s Air Ambulance’s Christmas appeal, his fiancee Jemma Young said: “I will sing their praises every day for the rest of my life. Without them, my children would not have a dad.

“While [the doctors at] Whitechapel kept him alive, the air ambulance were the reason they had a patient.”

Robert's children Elsie, 3, and Joshua, 18 months (collect)

The crash happened on September 14 last year about 7am on Whitewebbs Lane, Enfield, as Mr Handleigh, who works for the Highways Agency repairing roads, rode home to Stevenage.

“They kept me late at work that night, and I was in a bit of a rush to get home, so I went a different way, thinking it would be quicker,” he said. “It wasn’t. I got home seven weeks later.”

He collided with the lorry’s side door and was thrown 20ft off his motorbike.

“The ambulance turned up. Then the orange jump-suits [the air ambulance medics] turned up,” he said. “I know from my job that when they turn up, it’s bad.”

Robert Handleigh proposes on the London Eye

The air ambulance team - Dr Iain Edgar, Dr Claire Park and paramedic Graham Chalk - were on scene in six minutes.

They made incisions on both sides of his chest to treat the haemothorax and pneumothorax and allow his lungs to re-inflate, and transfused four units of blood.

He had broken all but one rib on his right side, some of which had separated from his spine, his sternum and damaged part of his bowel.

He was taken by road to hospital and underwent several operations. He later contracted sepsis when his liver leaking bile. He spent 45 days in the Royal London.

Mr Handleigh returned to work in February, and is now “absolutely fine”.

The couple, who have a daughter, Elsie, three, and an 18-month-old son, Joshua, are due to marry in May 2019. Mr Handleigh proposed on the London Eye. They plan to raise funds for the air ambulance at the ceremony.

Ms Young said: “Our daughter Elsie was confused when he came home. He had long hair, a beard and he’d lost 5st. She knew that he was hurt and she went to him and glued herself to him for hours. She literally wouldn’t let go.”

She added: “I didn’t realise it was a charity that saved Robert’s life.”

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