“He was in awe of them for saving his life and they were in awe of him for surviving” – Tim Carroll describing the meeting of his Dad, 78 year old Patrick Carroll and the group of individuals from the combined Emergency Services who came to his assistance in on January 3rd last year when he was involved in a traffic accident. They were all re united a number of weeks ago to allow for Patrick and his family to make a special presentation following a fund raising venture. For Patrick, the special event was overwhelming: “He broke down twice in tears and Dad is not one for tears. He knew they had given him a second chance at life and we knew they had given us a second chance as a family,” Tim explains.
On January 3rd last year Patrick, as a pedestrian, was involved in an accident with a lorry. Tim, who was called to the scene, explained that his dad “ended up underneath the lorry. When I arrived it seemed the entire emergency services were there. The guards were there, the paramedics, the fire brigade and the air ambulance crew. And over the next two hours they used their combined experience, talent, intelligence, courage and brilliance to save his life and get him out and onwards to St James’s Hospital. I just can’t say enough about their professionalism, how they conducted themselves and how much calm and genius they used to save him.”
Tim says he had been “assured immediately on arrival on speaking with Tomas Lawlor, Chief Fire Officer at the scene that everyone was doing their best. That calmed me down and allowed me to observe events. Everyone did everything to the best of their ability – over and above the call of duty.
“They were under the lorry – from my perspective it seemed they were putting themselves in danger. They were talking to Dad the whole time, re- assuring him, keeping him calm, telling him everything was going to be all right. He was fully conscious during it all, yet now, he has no recollection of it.
“It really did seem to everyone at the scene that he wouldn’t make it. And he only made it because of what they did, and the strength they gave him. Everyone there performed to an incredible level – they all worked in the moment, reacting to the situation and the environment. The lorry wasn’t moved until the paramedics gave the call. Dad was transferred into the awaiting ambulance and then brought to the park in Abbeyleix where the air ambulance was waiting. Mr Carroll was airlifted by the NAS Air Ambulance crewed by Advanced Paramedic Brendan Whelan and Captain Stephen Cusack. They flew him to St James’s Hospital and he was there within 15 minutes.”
Sadly Patrick had to have his right leg amputated not long after admission and subsequently had to have the front of his left foot also amputated. “He was in St James’s for six months. He had broken ribs, a broken collar bone, contusion on the brain and although they really tried to save his left foot, they had to amputate the front part. It’s incredible that at 78 years of age he survived all that.”
Patrick was discharged in July last year and although they were plans for rehabilitation, they could only be acted upon in December due to the pressures of COVID-19 restrictions at the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRN) Dun Laoghaire. However, after two months in the NRH, Patrick was fitted with a prosthetic leg and walked out of hospital.
“He is able to walk around 50 metres at a time now which is amazing – the day of the presentation he got out of the car and walked over to the men gathered there to greet them and thank them. He’s in great form now – so appreciative. He has a new perspective on life. As do we all as a family.”
It was almost immediately after the accident that Tim decided that he wanted to give back – that his entire family wanted to reach out and express their deep appreciation and respect. “I said if he gets through this I am going to do something to help raise funds and give back in some small way to the people and organisations that helped out on that day.”
And from that the Quest Fundraising Adventure was planned. An avid cyclist, racer and Quest enthusiast, Tim explains that the Quest Adventure series involves a combination of cycling, kayaking and mountain running. A Clinical Engineer working with the HSE in Mountmellick, Tim has been engaged in the activity since 2019. For the special fund raising event, he teamed up with his sister-in-law Fiona Kelly and good friend Barry Donnelly, and in October last year they undertook a 113km cycling/kayaking/mountain running trip from his home in Shanahoe, Co Laois through the Slieve Bloom mountains, kayaking in Vicarstown and finally ending up at his mother-in-law’s home in Portlaoise. While for most, it would seem arduous, Tim stresses that its really enjoyable: “It’s all adventure stuff and we all get great pleasure out of it.” They completed the trip in six hours.
Through the Go Fund Me page they set up, they collected over €7,000. “We decided to divide the monies in four and present it to the four organisations involved – Laois Fire Services, the National Ambulance Service, St James’s Hospital and the Air Ambulance Crew. We left it to each to decide how best to use the monies. But of course because of Covid we didn’t get a chance to hold the presentation until June 23rd this year.”
The family invited representatives from the four bodies to the event at Abbeyleix Fire Station where an emotional Patrick broke down in tears as he greeted and spoke with the men who had saved his life.
“He’s not one to cry but he broke down that day two or three times. He was in awe of these guys for saving his life and they were in awe of him for surviving. The paramedics kept telling us they were just doing their job, but they weren’t just doing their job - they saved dad’s life and they gave us a second chance as a family. Because that day we thought he was gone, as did he, and we were preparing for the worst. I said that on the day – it was very important that they realised how much they had done for him. They were so humble – too humble.”
Tim adds: “My Dad is a tough resilient man – he’s only five foot five, yet when I was small I remember him carrying trees on his shoulder bigger than me.” Patrick himself summed matters up by adding: “I would be six foot under if it wasn’t for those heroes.”
Friends for life
Tim says he has made friends for life from that day – among those he now counts as friends is Pat Mooney, Chief Operations Officer with the HSE National Ambulance Service Midlands Area. Pat explains that he was delighted to be invited to the presentation on behalf of the NAS. “It was lovely to see Mr Carroll, witness his remarkable recovery and meet his family.” Describing how the crew responded to the emergency on the day Pat reflects that “hearing a lorry and pedestrian is always concerning as the outcome is normally not good.
“However on this occasion the outcome was exceptional. Crews mobilised immediately after arriving at the scene. Following the completion of a primary survey Mr Carroll was stabilised. The crew couldn’t move Mr Carroll because he was trapped. However, advanced training administered by the crew on scene provided Mr Carroll pain relief leaving him re –assured and comforted.”
Pat also wishes to acknowledge the “significant level of co-ordination with the primary response agencies (emergency services) that day - it was a credit to everyone. Our job was to ensure that Mr Carroll wasn’t compromised and was managed until the lorry was lifted ( two hours later) then transferred to the Air Ambulance. At that stage he was obviously alive and while he was stable, he did require needed critical intervention.” He added that we agreed to use the monies they raised as a contribution towards equipment for staff health and wellbeing locally.”
“My Dad is a tough resilient man – he’s only five foot five, yet when I was small I remember him carrying trees on his shoulder bigger than me.” Patrick himself summed matters up by adding: “I would be six foot under if it wasn’t for those heroes.”
The Carroll family (Patrick’s wife Phyllis and daughter Bridin, granddaughter Ava along with Tim, wife Niamh and children Alisha And Aidan) are delighted and grateful and while Patrick continues on his recovery journey, Tim continues on his Quest journey. The 151.91km Beara Peninsula Adventure is his next challenge in five weeks time. It would seem that resilience is something hardwired into the Carroll family along with the gift of gratitude and appreciation.