As a Thames Valley Police Response Officer you respond to traumatic injuries every day. Nothing ever prepares you for being minutes away from death yourself. In September 2018 I was hit by a car on duty and the artery in my left leg was severed. I was going to bleed to death in minutes.
Somehow, I managed to instruct my police colleagues on how to wrap a makeshift tourniquet around my leg. To this day I don’t know where I got the strength or energy from, and thankfully the ambulance got there very quickly.
The scale of the injury first hit me was when I woke up after the operation and asked for the time. I was told it was 8.30. As the accident happened at 5.30 in the morning, I instinctively thought the surgery had been relatively quick. It was actually 8.30 in the evening. I’d been in theatre for well over 10 hours and been given more than 12 units of blood.
When the doctors told me that I’d lost part of my leg, I don’t remember feeling or thinking anything.
That whole first week is all a bit of a blank as I was on so much medication to control the pain. It was only in the weeks after that the gravity of it all began to sink in. Surving this was huge, but I knew I my life would be completely different.
A life-changing injury is hard to come to terms with, but I felt I could either lie there and let it beat me or metaphorically stick two fingers up and get on with life.
My four weeks in hospital were the start of a very big learning curve. I went from being in bed for the first fortnight to learning how to move around in a wheelchair. All that time though, the doctors and Occupational Therapists were around guiding and supporting me.
The real challenges came once I returned home.
After I was discharged, I essentially had to learn how to do everything differently. Simple things like moving around the house, washing, and putting myself to bed were no longer straightforward. My family and Anna were all excellent pillars of support and helped me get through some incredibly challenging times, but I knew that I had to think about how to make life easier for myself.
It was while I was in hospital that I first heard about Police Care UK. My Thames Valley Police Federation rep told me about how they could help and suggested that I refer myself. I did just that and the charity said they were able to help straight away. A few months after coming home, I was awarded a specialist equipment grant from Police Care UK. I wanted to replace the simple chair provided by the NHS with an “active” wheelchair tailored to my own needs.
The simple chair was just that, and I found I couldn’t be as independent as I wished. My new chair is a lot more energy-efficient, is much easier around the house. It means I can be much more independent and travel longer distances. Negotiating hills in the simple chair was particularly difficult but my active chair is much lighter. This means I can propel myself and not have to rely on someone to push me.
I’d always been keen on outdoor activities and went through phases of being very sporty. My new chair can be fitted with a handbike attachment on the front. This means I can go riding (almost) like I used to do and remain physically active. Police Care UK’s support has made moving around that much easier when I am not using my prosthetic leg. For that I’m incredibly grateful, and I also know that the charity will always be there for me in the future. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know you are there to support me and my family.
Police Care UK have given me some of my freedom back.
In December 2018 I managed to achieve my goal of going back to work. I’m currently delivering training on the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) and have recently passed my Sergeant’s exams. I am eager to achieve what I had intended to before the accident.
The support from Police Care UK has been life-changing. Your help for myself and others has been invaluable. Suffering this injury was awful, but in the long-run it has made me more determined to overcome obstacles and prove a point – that I am still Tom, and that I can do it.