Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Accident in Wales

This is a short article about the accident that I had on 30th December 2006.

The morning started of great, with my (now ex)girlfriend and I setting off to Wales to join up with some friends. Our plan was to see the New Year in with some healthy exercise in the Welsh hills and a romantic hotel for the evenings.

Everything went well until we arrived in Wales to be greeted with some heavy rain - so after supping a warm cup of coffee in the local ASDA Walmart and the weather brightening up, we decided to take a walk over the local hills of Blaina near Abergavenny.

The first couple of hours were great but the weather soon turned in again - and the best option for us was to take a shortcut down a steep footpath back to the foot of the hills. This is where things took a turn for the worse.

At some point on our descent, I lost my footing a began to tumble (approximately for 50ft), and then unable to stop, fell over the edge of Blaina Quarry and free fell a further 40ft before landing on my back.

I remember the fall clearly. As I lost my footing, I tried to stop myself slipping... I couldn't... I just slid faster and faster... soon the slide became a tumble as I went head over heels further down the hill. I remember suddenly realising that I was floating... however, I had no idea how far I had fallen - things just happened so quickly. I landed with a bit of a thump.

At some point during the fall I managed to cut my head open and, on landing, managed to dislocate and shatter my shoulder.

My friends managed to scramble down to me as I was trying to stand up. As soon as I stood, I felt shooting pains running through my shoulder. I knew that I had dislocated it. At this time, my friends began shouting at me to lay down as my head was pouring with blood.

It was at this point that I discovered that one of my walking poles was sticking out of my leg, next to my groin. Somehow during the fall, the pole had twisted out of my hand, turned around and dug itself into me. By some absolute miracle, the pole had only pierced through my waterproof trousers and jeans.

As I lay on the ground, with my friends taking turns in holding a wooly hat on my head wound, the rescue services were called. As we were able to provide the exact grid reference of my location - the Police, Ambulance Service, Fire brigade and Mountain Rescue team arrived within about 45 minutes. Unfortunately we were still very high up in the hills and the climb down was too challenging for them to put me on a stretcher and carry me down. The only option was for the Mountain Rescue Team to call the RAF and request a helicopter to airlift me to hospital.

The photographs below show some of the activity during the rescue:

The first photos were taken whilst the paramedics and mountain rescue team fitted me up with a neckbrace and prepared me for the lift. As the helicopter arrived in the local area, one of the Mountain Rescue Team let off a flare to highlight were we were.

After several attempts, the helicopter was able to get close enough to winch the lead paramedic, then it was my turn.

I was finally winched to the helicopter and flown to the local hospital.

Three hours after the initial accident, I finally arrived in hospital where I was looked after overnight.

At 3am I was taken down to theatre, so that my shoulder could be moved into its original position. More x-rays were taken (including the one above). I was sent home the following day, so that I could attend my local hospital.

When I arrived home, my local hospital could not establish exactly how much damage had been caused so decided to scan my shoulder. The scan showed that the shoulder had broken into 17 pieces and was clearly beyond repair. Two weeks later, I was admitted, my shoulder was removed and a titanium replacement fitted.

6 months later and after much regular physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, I have now reached my maximum mobility (which is 40% of my original arm movement)and am planning my next trip (maybe I shouldn't use that term - perhaps expedition is more appropriate).

xxx THE END xxx

By Graham Ettridge
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Amel said...

Oh my GOODNESS!!! What a story! Glad to hear your arm's getting better now. You're such an adventurer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paper Fan Club said...

Glad to hear you are recovering! An amazing adventure that you lived to tell.

Choc Mint Girl said...

Glad to know that you are getting better, but what about your girlfriend? How is she? Btw, who took all those pics??

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comments

I guess what is meant to be is meant to girlfriend and I broke up a week after the operation. January 2007 will go down in my memoirs as probably not the happiest month in my life, but possibly a great turning point.

The photos were taken by the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team (CBMRT). They take a photographic record of each of their rescues. I'm glad they did as I was being regularly injected with morphine - so wasn't really able to fully absorb what was going on around me.

I look at the photos occasionally now to remind me of how lucky I actually was, as it was my shoulder that smashed and not my neck.

Roberto said...

Hi Getty72!
Fantastic Travel Blog! I always check travel blogs first as they are my favorite. The accident was something else, but I'm glad you retained your spirit of exploration despite the accident. Good show and continue writing your blog- the pictures are great. Check out my blog at

Hari Ramakrishnan said...

I luv travelouges... and urs is a travel blog... not much difference ... get well soon... have got great pics... would love to travel like u but couldnt due to family obligations... may be some day i could... but ur blog took me through vivid feelings... nicely constructed... visit mine too... i have written a post on coral reefs... trying to create awareness... if u have got pics on corals which u have taken during ur travels plz send it to me.. i would love to add those... my blog url is:


DaisyandTim said...

Fabulous adventures; we've only had a tame (but wet) trek to the Peak District which will probably feature in our blog at some point, but i love the great outdoors and what with your heroic actions i feel inspired to do more!

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

And you have the pictures to prove it. :D

Yet you were very lucky,a broken shoulder is better than a broken neck !

Sometimes things happen for a reason. On a different topic, I remember getting robbed, injured (although not as badly !) etc. in South America and I learned from my mistakes. I can't say its my best memories now but I guess it's part of the traveler's life...!

Thanks for visiting my blog today and leaving such a nice comment. I appreciate !

I'll be back for more reading, you're bookmarked. I'm basically stuck in Ottawa right now and I work like crazy, so please travel somewhere interesting so that I can dream a bit ! ;)


mmm well i suppose that is what you call a real "trip" (pun intended) glad to hear you are on the mend!
great blog, by the way...


I was stopping by to thank you for your nice comment on my life list blog, and it looks like you're doing a great job of living life to the fullest yourself...what a story!


The Pisces Man said...

Ouch! what a 'trip' of an ad'venture' down the hill.. So, u still undergoing physiotherapy, since u said u have only gained 40% of your arm movement back.

Btw, anyone called u The Titanium Man..? :-)

dragoncaller said...

wow! i'm so glad that you're getting better! I've always wanted to go to wales. It must be so beautiful there. anyways..i really admire you and your love to travel, and how you share it. thank you!

dragoncaller said...

wow! i'm so glad that you're getting better! I've always wanted to go to wales. It must be so beautiful there. anyways..i really admire you and your love to travel, and how you share it. thank you!

Casdok said...

Your sounds a lot more dramatic than mine!!!
How ever as you changing!

jesie said...

If I had been at the scene, I would have fainted. I'm glad despite the mishap, you have a strong will power to make the best out of it.

Sue said...

*wince* OUCH! Ooohh... Oh my.

You are extremely lucky! Wow. Gobsmacked!

Michelle Hix said...

Wow Graham! You are now a man of steel...

dr_clairebear said...

hello! i got to your blog through the comment you posted on marj's blog. :)

as medical doctor, i, of course, zoomed in on this particular post. i have a morbid curiosity about these things.

as a pipe dream wanderer, i must say that you're so lucky to have visited all the places you've been. i really wish i could do that... maybe someday.

if you are looking for your next adventure, may i suggest you plan a trip to the philippines? you'll get value for money and there are a lot of great places to see (outside the city), and our food is amazing. :))

i will be back! i love travel blogs...

Ineke said...

good god Graham,
i never read this before. It's horrible. Jeez.
it's been a while so luck and strenght is not doing much any more, on the other hand, you can never have enough of those two, so good luck, (good weather!) and strenght to you!

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Sunny Soleil said...

Have to ask - was all that treatment on the NHS..looking for info that tells folks in the US that the NHS is pretty good despite our griping!

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