Dad ‘could have died’ after accident while renovating his house

Gary Carlisle-Collett with his daughter Georgina and son Sebastian
Gary Carlisle-Collett with his daughter Georgina and son Sebastian -Credit:Supplied

A dad woke up in hospital with no idea what had happened after renovating his house.

Gary Carlisle-Collett, 59, from Southport, was a full-time painter and decorator. In August 2023, he was busy renovating his own house until an accident changed his life.

Gary can’t remember what happened but was told when he woke up in A&E. Speaking to the ECHO, he said: “I had a fall from 35ft from scaffolding. It was a life-changing accident.

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“I had a fractured skull, punctured lung, fractured wrist and fractured shoulder blade. I had internal bleeding from my spleen. I was in intensive care for two weeks.”

Gary was a keen runner before the accident and used to walk up mountains regularly. There was a possibility he wouldn’t walk again.

He has no memory of the fall or the immediate aftermath. He was told he probably wouldn’t have survived at all without the quick actions of one team.

Gary said: “The biggest thing is the air ambulance. I was that unstable, I couldn't go into the air ambulance. But the air ambulance crew got in and prepped me. I don't think, without their work, that I'd be here today.”

North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) crew arrived at the scene and assessed Gary’s injuries. The crew could see that his injuries were life-threatening.

Professor Simon Carley, a consultant at the NWAA, said: “Gary had a significant fall from scaffolding, which resulted in life-threatening injuries that required specialist treatment in a major trauma centre.

Gary and his wife Gillian
Gary and his wife Gillian -Credit:Supplied

“His injuries included a combination of severe head injury (with bleeding around the brain), spinal injury, chest injury (including punctured lungs) and a very severe injury to his abdomen, with severe internal bleeding from his spleen.

“As a team, we needed to sedate Gary and treat him using a combination of drugs that are not available on a routine ambulance. We were able to perform diagnostic tests using ultrasound at the roadside which identified internal bleeding even before the patient arrived at hospital.

“We splinted suspected fractures and gave intravenous tranexamic acid, a drug to reduce bleeding. We then carefully controlled Gary’s blood pressure en route to the hospital to optimise both his head injury and abdominal bleeding.”

The NWAA crew transported Gary in the back of an ambulance, which is often done when the patient’s injuries are so significant that the crew need to closely monitor them and continue treatment on the way to the hospital. This quick response and transportation reduced the journey time by 50%.

Although he hasn't fully recovered, he has made huge strides in his journey. On the six-month anniversary of the accident, Gary was able to return to part-time work as a painter and decorator. His passion for running and walking up mountains was reignited, and he is now confidently able to do runs in his local park.

In a gesture of appreciation, Gary has decided to give back to NWAA by fundraising. He has signed up for the London Royal Park Half Marathon, taking place on October 13, to raise funds for the charity that saved his life.

Gary said: “The air ambulance is run through charity. More people should know about that. I wouldn't be here if it wasn’t here if it wasn’t for the initial air ambulance.

“Prior to the accident, I would run about three times a week, anything between 5 and 15k. I’ve never done a marathon. I thought a half marathon would be a good start.”

Gary also praised the “phenomenal” work of the surgeons and staff at the Walton Centre who aided his recovery. He is also grateful for the support of his wife Gillian, son Sebestian and daughter Gerogina, and other family and friends who have supported them during this time.

“They were fantastic. They have been absolutely fantastic. My children have been absolutely wonderful. Close friends and family have all stepped up.”

“Every day now is a positive. I could have died last September. I take every day as an added bonus.”

As part of its 25th anniversary campaign, the NWAA wants to hear more stories like Gary’s. You can find out more about the charity here.

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