Impaled Warnham father: “I thought I was going to die”

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A Warnham father has told of the terrifying moment he thought he was going to die after falling ten feet and impaling himself on a metal spike.

David Johnstone, 53, was working on a West Chiltington farm loading hay bales on a trailer when he fell onto the back of a tractor.

A blunt metal spike punctured his chest and narrowly missed his vital organs.

“I was in absolute agony and thought I was going to die, it was terrifying,” said Mr Johnstone, who had finished his day job as a masonry consultant and was helping a friend on the farm when the incident happened in July.

The victim managed to pull himself off the spike, but fell over and was placed on hay bales by workers at the scene.

Mr Johnstone continued: “I saw blood coming out of my chest and arms and every breath I took was smaller than the previous one because one of my lungs had collapsed.

“The pressure had built up in my chest cavity and was putting pressure on my heart so my blood pressure went very low.

“On the other hand it almost couldn’t have happened in a better place because if it had been two inches or more either way, I would have died.”

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) Community First Responder Peter Davis, critical care paramedic Lewis Allam and his colleagues Christian Clarke and Laura Benham were first on scene and found Mr Johnstone fighting for breath.

Sussex Air Ambulance was called due to the severity of his injuries and the doctor and paramedic carried out emergency life-saving treatment.

Mr Allam said: “Upon re-assessment of the patient it was clear that his condition was worsening due to either blood or air being trapped around his lung and at this point the helicopter was overhead.”

Mr Johnstone was airlifted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital major trauma centre in Brighton where he spent the next six days.

He has since made a good recovery and recently met the charity helicopter crew for the first time since his accident.

The father of two added: “When the air ambulance arrived I thought it must be quiet serious but I wasn’t aware of the level of expertise and equipment on board. Now I know that’s what made the difference and I wouldn’t be here today otherwise. I just wanted to say thank you in person because one of the most valuable things you can give is your time. It was very important for me to do that and it was absolutely marvellous to see them and say thanks.”