North Curry doctor speaks of Wells Cathedral woman rescue drama

Somerset County Gazette: Dr James Hickman is one of few volunteers at SAVES. Dr James Hickman is one of few volunteers at SAVES.

AN heroic doctor whose swift actions helped rescue a woman trapped after a 30ft fall in Wells Cathedral says more GPs are needed for Somerset’s key accident-emergency service.

James Hickman, a North Curry GP, was called on to join a multi-agency operation after a woman fell during a tour and became trapped high in the Cathedral’s main tower on April 29.

After descending into the void, James, one of only a handful of doctors volunteering for the Somerset Accident Voluntary Emergency Service (SAVES), managed to tend to her injuries.

The SAVES network of doctors are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, supporting the ambulance service in treating seriously ill accident patients county-wide.

James told the County Gazette: “While we have been making progress when it comes to new recruits, Wells is a long way from North Curry, where I am a GP.

“If we had a few more doctors joining SAVES to cover the county, it would be helpful.”

As volunteers for the charity, now in its 43rd year, SAVES doctors receive specialist response training. James, the first doctor on the scene of the M5 crash tragedy outside Taunton which claimed seven lives in 2011, also works in international crisis zones.

Reflecting on the Wells rescue, he said: “The difficulty was the lack of space.

“She had fallen into a narrow space within the walls of the tower, so there wasn’t room for many people to be down there.

“I’m fortunate in that apart from SAVES, I also work with an international search and rescue team which also goes to earthquakes, so we get a lot of training working in tunnels, cavities, and narrow spaces.”

The woman, believed to be in her 60s, was winched up by a helicopter and airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol with suspected arm and pelvic injuries.

For more information about SAVES, visit www.saves.org.uk

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