A COURAGEOUS Edinburgh doctor has been hailed as a hero in Australia after performing lifesaving roadside treatment on two brothers involved in a horror car crash – less than 24 hours after being discharged from hospital himself.
Dr Chris Armstrong, originally from Bruntsfield, helped pull twins Chris and Ian Campbell, 55, from their wrecked vehicle after it veered off the road into a tree in the Perth suburb of West Leederville last month while en-route to a local cinema with his partner.
However, quickly realising both men had suffered a collapsed lung in the smash and may not survive the trip to the Royal Perth Hospital (RPH), the off-duty Dr Armstrong, 33, administered a procedure to re-inflate the organs before accompanying ambulance crews to the facility.
It came less than a day after the former George Watson’s pupil had been discharged from the hospital – where he works in the emergency department – following an operation to have his appendix removed.
The brothers were on their way home from a labouring job in Mandurah, around 45 miles from Perth, when they lost control of the vehicle, cutting across three lanes of traffic before colliding with the tree.
Dr Armstrong, travelling a few cars behind the pair, recalled seeing the car “in a bad way” on the side of the road, adding: “I could actually see the smoke from the bonnet before I could see the car, so it was clear that this was a bad accident, but as we pulled up alongside it, I noticed the two men inside were badly injured.”
“The fire crews had already pulled the roof off the car, but when we got the first man out, I just knew he wouldn’t make it to hospital unless he got treatment right there and then.”
With the ambulance just arriving on the scene, Dr Armstrong grabbed a scalpel to make an incision in Chris’s chest, then poked a small hole in the lung, allowing it to fill with air before performing the same procedure on Ian.
His actions have now gained national media attention in Australia, even through Dr Armstrong admits he is “slightly embarrassed” to be labelled a hero.
He said: “I think the family were really grateful, they asked me to come down to the hospital and talk to the local press, but when I arrived, the TV cameras were there; It was all a little bit embarrassing really.”
Dr Armstrong continued: “I am just pleased both men are now on the mend. I think if you have the skills to help people in trouble, you just do it. I suppose I was just in the right place in the right time.”
Ian remains in RPH after sustaining serious leg injuries in the crash, though is now conscious after spending a week in intensive care, while brother Chris was released early last week.
Speaking to the Evening News from RPH, Chris said: “Without Dr Armstrong, we wouldn’t be here today – to us, he is a legend,” while brother Ian added: “Anyone else could well have just driven past and hoped the ambulance crews would get to us, but the injuries were deadly and thanks to him we are both alive today”.