MEDICS who saved the life of a biker had to decide whether or not he would survive for the seven minutes it would take to get him to hospital – or carry out a procedure on the side of the road.
Matthew Haines suffered 11 broken ribs, a collapsed lung and spleen and kidney injuries in the A515 collision with a car near Ashbourne.
The 40-year-old, who was travelling into the village to meet his wife, said memories of the incident at the junction of Tissington Gates were hazy but he remembers his chest "being crushed like an egg".
He said it was not until he was reunited with the air ambulance medics who saved him that he realised how bad his injuries were.
Matthew said: "They told me my chest needed draining because of the possibility of internal bleeding – but they weren't sure how bad it was.
"So they had to decide whether or not I would live the seven minutes it would take to get me to hospital to do the procedure, or carry it out there and then.
"A fact like that says it all – all other details are irrelevant if you don't survive long enough to get to hospital.
"They took the risk and I'm glad. I think it was better they were able to carry out the procedure in the hospital, so I'm really grateful to them."
Matthew, of Netherseal, says his ribs are still damaged five months later. But he plans to get back on his motorbike to raise money for the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance.
He has been riding since age 23 and was on his BMW F650 Funduro, a bike which he has been riding for 15 years, on the day of the collision in February.
Matthew said: "It was a normal day. The conditions were good, I wasn't going too fast and I was wearing my helmet and protective clothing.
"Ironically, if I'd been speeding, I would have been at a different point of the road.
"It happened so quickly and I had no time to react. The impact caused me to be thrown across the car bonnet and on to a grass verge. The whole left side of my chest took the impact."
Matthew said several people stopped to help, including an off-duty paramedic. He was then flown to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
Pilot Jonathan Tuley, doctor Matt O'Meara and critical care paramedic Daniel Evans helped Matthew, who lives with wife Cheryl Hunter, 42, in Church Street.
Daniel said: "This was a particularly nasty collision and it was clear as soon as we arrived that Matthew was in a pretty bad way. He had sustained serious chest injuries and we could not rule out the possibility that he had also suffered internal bleeding.
"It was important that we acted quickly to ensure that Matthew was taken to hospital as quickly as possible."
Matthew spent just over two weeks in hospital, including a week in intensive care.
Since then, he has received scans and assessments of his damaged ribs from doctors at the Guy's and St Thomas's NHS Trust, in London.
Matthew, who was working part-time as a welding instructor before his accident, said: "I was something of a celebrity to the doctors when I was in intensive care because I only sustained chest trauma.
"They told me people normally lose limbs in collisions like I had and that it was remarkable I came through it the way I did.
"But I'm not quite out of the woods yet. My ribs are still damaged and I still struggle to comprehend the turn my year has taken. Humour helps – otherwise it can get on top of you."
Matthew also plans to aid his recovery by taking part in the Rescue Ride In event at the Brackley Festival of Motorcycling next month.
Riders from across the Midlands and South East will be taking part, starting from various locations before coming together to ride into the festival. Matthew said: "People take a dim view of motorcyclists – they think they are reckless and suicidal.
"There are some motorcyclists who fit that picture but there are a hell of a lot who are not like that at all and my collision was one of those things that happens.
"But there was never any question I wouldn't get back on my bike."