Keith Harlow

Type of Incident: DIY Accident
Time: 10:25
Date: 27th June 2012
Location: Chatham
“…flown to King’s College Hospital in London. This transfer took 14 minutes, a journey that would have taken more than an hour by road.”

Grandfather of three, Keith Harlow, could often be found in his workshop at home. He decided to fit a finer grade of grinding wheel which had been up in his loft for some time. Keith admits he should have known better than to just fit it without carrying out a “ring test” and failing to do this almost cost him his sight.

Keith switched on the grinder and walked to the other side of the workshop to close the door. At that point, he heard a strange noise followed by a bang and felt the stone strike the side of his face. He had been cut from his right lower eyelid down to his chin and along his jawbone towards his ear. Keith also lost two teeth but managed to dial 999.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) paramedic Phil Eversfield and technicians Kate Fuller and Simon Matthews were first on scene. They were then joined by paramedic Lisa Brett who was off duty but spotted her colleagues and offered her assistance.

They found Keith on his drive way with extensive maxilla facial injuries and gave him fluid therapy intravenously. Their immediate concern was his airway while also dealing with what could have been a potentially catastrophic haemorrhage. Due to the severity of Keith’s injuries, they called in the Air Ambulance. The helicopter arrived within 14 minutes before landing at a nearby leisure centre.

Dr Ed Dennison-Davies and critical care paramedics Mick Carter and Lewis Price assessed Keith at the scene, anaesthetised and intubated him to secure his airway. Compression bandages were also applied to further control his bleeding before he was flown to King’s College Hospital in London. This transfer took 14 minutes, journey that would have taken more than an hour by road.

Keith underwent a six-hour operation to repair his face which required three pints of blood and 300 stitches. He was in intensive care for four days but was allowed home after a week and has since undergone a trauma cataract operation. In May, 2013, he was still receiving ongoing treatment at Maidstone Eye Hospital but was expected to make a full recovery.