Cumbria Crack

“They saved my life” says crash biker

Aircraft on scene at Phil Murray's collision
Aircraft on scene at Phil Murray’s collision, Phil at the RVI

[A] former police officer is encouraging others to sign up for a half-marathon in aid of the charity which saved his life after an horrific crash.

Two years on from a road collision which almost claimed Phil Murray’s life, the father-of-two from Cockermouth, Cumbria, has just been given the go-ahead from doctors to begin training for the Great North Run in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).

Phil, 48, a former forensic collision investigator for Cumbria Police, worked for more than eight years to establish how fatal and serious collisions happened on the roads, when he himself was left with life-changing injuries after being involved in a crash on the A595 near Wigton in July 2014.

During his time as an officer, Phil says he witnessed first-hand the “fantastic” work carried out by GNAAS. He said: “Over the years I saw how the survival rate of seriously injured people improved dramatically.

“I live in a rural county where hospitals are few, and often many miles from a collision scene. Road ambulances are invaluable, but often the distances involved mean that response times are long. The minutes following a serious crash are crucial for survival. I have no doubt, having seen with my own eyes, that the GNAAS is the significant factor in the improvement in the survival rates of collision victims.”

Phil had set off on his motorbike on a journey from his Cockermouth home to Carlisle, when en route, a car made a manoeuvre in the road and he was unable to avoid the vehicle. He was thrown around 20 metres through the air and into a fence.

He suffered multiple broken bones, head injuries, a collapsed lung and a ruptured knee.

Arm injury
Arm injury

A passing paramedic assessed Phil’s injuries and realised the severity of the situation before calling for help from GNAAS.

Also on duty that day was Phil’s wife Shirley, a police officer, who was called to the scene. Phil said: “She had been told beforehand that I was involved but it was obviously still frightening for her to deal with. I was in and out of consciousness.”

Luckily, Shirley was able to tell paramedics Phil’s medical history which includes a condition – myatonia – which affects the muscles. He can have a life-threatening reaction to certain anaesthetics which are often used in major trauma incidents.

Phil Murray
Phil Murray

Phil said: “It is a rare condition but the doctor on board the aircraft knew what it was and what drugs to avoid.

“I have no doubt that my life was saved because of the skills on board the helicopter.

“I don’t recall any of the incident but I know that the skill and professionalism of the crew who treated me saved my life and they took me to a fantastic hospital where I got the best care.”

In September this year, Phil’s consultant at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary told him that he could begin doing meaningful exercise.

Phil said: “I have a long way to go. I am far from fit at this stage and it will be a test of my determination and commitment, but taking on this challenge with the goal of raising money for the service that saved my life, is without a doubt the right thing for me, and all the motivation I will need to see me through to the finish line.

“The Great North Run is a fantastic event and a serious challenge which I wanted to take on as I attempt to regain my fitness.

“I hope that others come forward to run for GNAAS and support me in my endeavour.”

GNAAS Dr Chris Smith, who was at the scene of the incident, said: “I am so pleased to hear that Phil is making a good recovery.

“It is inspiring to hear stories of former patients who have come back from the brink of death to raise funds to support our work. We are incredibly grateful. We wish him the best of luck in his half-marathon training and hope to welcome him at our airbase soon.”

GNAAS places for the next Great North Run on September 10 are now available. Participants are required to raise a minimum of £300 sponsorship. To sign up visit

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