A COMPANY director has thanked members of the public who came to his aid as he lay waiting for an ambulance for more than two hours after a horrific cycling accident.
Phil Hitchen, 55, shattered his left leg when he came off his bicycle in Denton after a major oil spillage left the road surface extremely slippery.
He was training for a charity ride to Blackpool in July in aid of The Christie when the accident happened on Saturday, May 15 at around 8.10am.
Phil, who is managing director of Stockport-based bus and coach hire company Belle Vue Manchester, was riding with colleague Matt Turner and pal Craig McLean when he skidded off his bike on Market Street at the junction with Hyde Road.
There had earlier been a major spillage of what is thought to have been hydraulic fluid.
Members of the public helped Matt and Craig to look after Phil as he lay in ‘excruciating pain’ in the road.
People brought a coat, blanket, foil sheeting and a hot water bottle to keep him warm, and a woman helped medically. Two passing police officers also stopped to assist, with one giving Phil his hi-visibility coat.
When an ambulance crew arrived at about 10.25am, Phil was taken to Tameside General Hospital, where he underwent a two-hour operation to insert pins, screws and a rod to repair his shattered femur, and required a blood transfusion. He spent five nights in hospital and is now recuperating at home.
Phil’s injury meant he had to give up his tickets to see his beloved Manchester City take on Chelsea in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final in Portugal and for the match against Everton where the Blues lifted the Premier League trophy.
The father-of-one, who lives in Hyde, said: “I met the boys at Crown Point and we cycled down Market Street.
“I was doing 4mph at the most when I skidded off my bike on a road which was full of oil. You couldn’t see it, but I could feel it on my skin and jacket after my fall.
“I cleaned myself down with some paper towels Craig had been given at a nearby shop. I warned the others to be extremely careful, and we set off again.
“But 20 seconds later my bike went again and I knew straight away that I’d broken my leg. I actually heard the bone crack.
“I was screaming from the excruciating pain and I was shaking from shock. I wasn’t able to move from the road and it was rather humbling to receive help and comfort from passers-by, the shop owner and police officers. They were all fantastic and I’m extremely grateful.
“An ambulance had been called, but after an hour I spoke to the control room myself. I was told they were extremely busy and was asked what my pain threshold was like. I said four out of 10. I was by then comfortable and not in as much pain as long as I remained still.
“They had other, more urgent priorities at the time and the ambulance finally arrived two hours and 15 minutes after the accident.
“I wasn’t angry but was frustrated that it took so long. I would not have thought the service was so stretched.
“When it did arrive, the crew were incredible. The care and professionalism they showed was outstanding. The same is true of the staff at Tameside General, from the nurses and surgeon to the physiotherapists who helped me get back on my feet.”
Phil is now back home and doctors have told him that, with physiotherapy, he should make a full recovery within 12 months.
A North West Ambulance spokesperson said, “We’re sorry that Mr Hitchen had to wait longer than he would have liked before help arrived.
“However, we prioritise the patients who need us most, and at the time of his accident, we were dealing with a high number of calls and had close to 150 other patients waiting for an ambulance. This, unfortunately, meant some experienced a delay.
“We do ask patients to call us back if their condition worsens, and then we can reprioritise the situation.
“We wish Mr Hitchen a speedy recovery, and if he has any concerns, also urge him to contact our patient safety team.”