[A] CARLISLE family has had an emotional reunion with the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) after they flew to the aid of their son, who was critically injured when he fell from a ladder.
Roofer Michael McCluskey was working on a house in Brampton, when he fell onto paving slabs on April 27, 2016.
His mother, Sue McCluskey, 56, said: “He slipped off the ladder. We don’t know if he unfortunately missed his footing and couldn’t save himself. He landed head first.”
Mr McCluskey, 25, said: “We were doing a slate job. We’d taken down a couple of chimneys, had reslated and I think we were onto the last stage. We were fitting the ridge and I went to get some more ridge slates.
“I have no memory whatsoever of what happened. I think I fell and hit my head on the ladder on the way down.”
Mr McCluskey smashed his skull and suffered a brain injury, a punctured lung, and broke his cheeks, vertebrae, wrist and collar bone. The GNAAS medics put Mr McCluskey into a medically induced coma before he was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Mrs McCluskey, who was at home in Houghton when the incident happened, rushed to the scene to be with her son. She said: “As soon as I saw him I knew how serious it was. They had to work on him for ages before he was stable enough to fly. Then the drive to Newcastle was a total blur. We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
He spent eight days in a coma and needed major surgery to relieve pressure from his brain. He had a section of his skull removed to reduce swelling and had operations on his neck, his cheeks rebuilt and a titanium plate fitted in his head.
Mrs McCluskey said: “When we got to the hospital, we were told how critical he was. He went almost immediately for surgery, which went on for hours because it was so major, but he got through it. It’s amazing and he wouldn’t have survived without GNAAS.”
Mr McCluskey, who also worked as a special constable and dreamed of a life-long career in the police, has had to change vocation because of his injuries. He said: “That’s the one major change which I’m gutted about. Doctors said if I took a bad hit to the head, it would kill me. That’s why I can no longer do it.
“GNAAS kept me alive. Kept me walking. I could have shown up today in a wheelchair. They saved me and thousands of other people. A lot of nurses told me I should be dead or paralysed. I know how lucky I have been.”
Now Michael, Colin, Sue and Michael’s sister Katie have met with the GNAAS team at their Langwathby airbase in Cumbria to thank them for their help.
Speaking of the difficult time, Mrs McCluskey, said: “We took every day as it comes. We’ve got a fantastic family and we were getting messages of support from everyone. We live in a very small village and everyone was so supportive. Now Michael is back to work, driving and living independently. He’s amazed everybody.
“It was awful but since it happened, everything has been very positive. We’ve had a lucky experience, I’m sure other people don’t.
“Getting the right treatment and being flown to the right hospital made his chances of recovery that much better. Who knows what would have happened if this helicopter wasn’t available. We are forever grateful.”
The family are planning fundraisers to further show their gratitude to the charity.
GNAAS is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary of becoming an independent registered charity. To find out how you can help, visit www.gnaas.com