Dad woke up in hospital with no memory - then found out how close he came to die

A father was left fighting for his life after a horrific accident while renovating his home.

Gary Carlisle-Collett, from Southport, who worked as a full-time painter and decorator, woke up in hospital with no memory of the incident that occurred in August 2023. The 59-year-old said: "I had a fall from 35ft from scaffolding. It was a life-changing accident."

The dad-of-two suffered a fractured skull, punctured lung, fractured wrist and shoulder blade, and internal bleeding from his spleen, which landed him in intensive care for two weeks. Before the accident, Gary was an avid runner and mountain climber, but the accident left him with the possibility of never walking again.


He has no recollection of the fall or what happened immediately after. He credits his survival to the quick response of the air ambulance team, the ECHO reports.

He 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."

The North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) crew arrived at the scene and quickly assessed Gary's injuries, recognising them as 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."

"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 Georgina, 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.