GP wins BBC 999 award after emergency amputation

A volunteer GP who saved a man's life by amputating his arm 100 feet up in the air has been given a BBC 999 award.

Dr Hickman (centre) was presented with his award by Danny O'Donoghue and Amanda Byram
Dr Hickman (centre) was presented with his award by Danny O'Donoghue and Amanda Byram

Dr James Hickman, a partner at the North Curry health centre in Taunton, Somerset, was given the volunteer award at the inaugural BBC 999 awards, screened last week, after performing his first amputation in January.

He was presented with his award by Danny O'Donoghue of the rock band The Script and television presenter Amanda Byram at the ceremony last month after he saved the life of a 56-year-old engineer whose arm was stuck in machinery 100 feet in the air, at a mill.

Dr Hickman, who has volunteered with the Somerset Accident Voluntary Emergency Service (SAVES) for 14 years, had to make the decision to amputate Rob Vine’s arm after rescuers tried for 45 minutes to free him without success.

Talking about the award, he told GP: 'I knew that I had been nominated but I didn't know until the night that I had won. It was the first time that I had met the patient and his family since the accident. It was very flattering to win the award, but humbling when you heard the stories of other winners. It was a very emotional night.’

On the decision to amputate, the GP told the audience: ‘It is not so much the doing it, it is making the decision that’s difficult because it is something you can’t come back from. You just fall back on your training. You have to think "what are your options?" Well, I didn’t have any.’

Viewers heard Mr Vine’s daughter, Emma Vine, thank the GP. She said: ‘I think it is because of Dr Hickman that I have my dad. The fact he does this work as a volunteer is pretty amazing.’

Mr Vine said: ‘I just can’t say how I feel about him because as far as I am concerned I have my family because of him. And I am here.’

On the procedure, Dr Hickman said: ‘It became apparent that it just wasn’t going to become possible to do an extraction in any timely fashion.

‘The decision to do an amputation just goes against human instincts because we do everything we can to save life and limb. That is what we are about. You have to look at the whole picture and think this is the only option we have here. You have to be sure it is the only option.’

On receiving the award, he said: ‘I am very grateful for this. It is not so much the recognition for me but for all my other colleagues in SAVES and the other schemes in the country, all of whom could be here tonight.’

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