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‘Like Florence Nightingales’ – how NARS saved my life after crash

PUBLISHED: 09:17 31 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:18 31 July 2020

“I visited Ray since his discharge from hospital and he is doing really well,” says NARS critical care paramedic Carl Smith         Picture: NARS

“I visited Ray since his discharge from hospital and he is doing really well,” says NARS critical care paramedic Carl Smith Picture: NARS

NARS

As part of the #NARSNeedsYou campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary of Norfolk Accident Rescue Service, Ray Fretwell shares how NARS critical care paramedic Carl Smith saved his life after a serious road traffic collision left him with life-threatening injuries.

"If I was trapped another 15 minutes I would have bled to death." Picture: Bethany Fretwell

On his way to Fakenham to meet up with some old colleagues on 18 December 2019, Ray Fretwell came around a corner as a lorry was pulling out of a left-hand layby in poor visibility.

“As I came round the corner, the lorry was in my carriageway and I had no chance to put my brakes on,” Ray says. “I hit it hard at 50mph.”

A car following behind also crashed into the front of the lorry and ricocheted into Ray’s vehicle. NARS critical care paramedic Carl Smith was just about to sit down to a Christmas meal with friends when the call came in.

“I attended the collision on the A148 at Harpley, where there had been an horrendous accident involving two cars and an articulated lorry,” Carl says. “Ray was trapped in his car – his injuries were life-threatening and he was losing so much blood from his head that I was concerned he was going to bleed to death.”

Ray, 62, lives in South Wootton and works as a warehouseman and driver for Edmundson Electrical.

“Before I knew what had happened, Carl was barking orders at people and trying to get me out of the car. His voice calmed me – it was clear in the way he conducted himself that he was in control.”

The emergency services had to cut the roof off Ray’s car to get him out.

“I remember him shouting to get me out of there because I was bleeding so badly,” Ray explains. “I knew I had broken something badly near my right hip – the pain was awful.”

Ray Fretwell and his wife Sally at a celebratory meal out after his recovery      Picture: Bethany FretwellRay Fretwell and his wife Sally at a celebratory meal out after his recovery Picture: Bethany Fretwell

Carl administered ketamine to ease the pain and provide sedation – an analgesic that NARS paramedics are specially trained to deliver, and which is not supplied by traditional ambulance services. Ray suffered two pelvic fractures, a broken hip socket, a broken breast bone and two crushed vertebrae fractures as a result of the crash. But the biggest threat to his life was the 8-inch gash on the back of his head.

“At the hospital they said the cut was so bad that if I was trapped another 15 minutes I would have bled to death. Without NARS, I would probably not be talking about this now.”

Prior to his accident, Ray was unfamiliar with NARS.

“I had never heard of them,” Ray says. “I had no idea. And yet here they are, saving my life.

“I’ll never be grateful enough to Carl and his colleagues, so I owe it to them to smile. I am amazed at the courage that these people have, as well as the dedication to do what they do in their own time. And it isn’t just that NARS volunteers are a good bunch of people, they are so well trained and they are excellent at what they do.”

Ray emphasises that it is only by receiving donations from the public that NARS will continue to exist. NARS receives no state funding and relies entirely on the generosity of the people of Norfolk to keep wheels turning and hearts beating.

“If we are able to fund NARS, they would be able to do so much more for so many people. They know what they are doing, they do it voluntarily and they do it on a shoestring.

“They are like Florence Nightingales. Not enough people know they are there. If they did know what they are there for and what they do voluntarily, I think people would donate.”

For more information or to make a donation please visit nars.org.uk


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