A MAN who was one of the region’s first patients to be airlifted to hospital has visited the Great North Air Ambulance Service’s base 30 years on.

Anthony Carr (55), from Bellingham, was involved in a two-vehicle collision near Ponteland in May 1990.

At the time, the ambulance service had just started trialling a helicopter to transport patients to hospital.

Mr Carr was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, but as there was no helipad at the hospital yet, the aircraft landed in Leazes Park, and a land ambulance was used to transport him directly to hospital.

He said: “Because I was only the second person to be airlifted, I think there were still some teething problems. The trouble was getting the team together to come down to the park and then transport me to the RVI.

“The other injured person was taken to hospital by road and they actually beat me there.”

Although it was not then known as GNAAS, this trial is what eventually developed in to the air ambulance service we know today.

Mr Carr, who was only 25 at the time, had an embolism in his lung, broke both his femurs, with one femur having more than 30 breaks, and he also broke his tibia and fibula. This resulted in him losing two inches off his height.

He spent 14 weeks in hospital before finally returning home to continue his recovery.

Thirty years later, he still lives with some of the complications resulting from the incident, but has led an active life.

Mr Carr had only been married for six months when the incident happened, and he has now celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife Ingrid.

To mark the occassion, the couple did some fund-raising for GNAAS and presented a cheque of £870 to the charity’s critical care team, which showed them round their base at Teesside International Airport.

Mr Carr said: “It has certainly moved on a lot since 1990 and can offer advanced critical care like blood transfusions and even heart surgery on the roadside. The camaraderie between the team is very apparent, and they should be really proud of what they do.”