Lisburn motorbike rider Stephen McKeever (23) paid tribute to the MCUI medical team who saved his life following a serious incident during practice at last year’s Tandragee 100 when he helped the Motorcycle Union of Ireland launch two brand new rapid response vehicles, supplied by Ballymena Vauxhall dealer Wilsons of Rathkenny, for the 2013 road racing and short circuit season.
Stephen joined Health Minister Edwin Poots MLA, MCUI medics Dr Fred McSorley and Caroline Bowles, MCUI (UC) Chairman Jack Agnew, Gordon Hannen (Regional Operations Manager Vauxhall Scotland and Northern Ireland) and Vauxhall dealer Darren Wilson at the launch of the MCUI’s brand new Vauxhall sponsored rapid response vehicles for the 2013 race season which were unveiled this week at Wilsons of Rathkenny.
Stephen’s crash demonstrates the hugely vital work the MCUI medical team carry out as within 40 seconds a ‘bike’ doctor was trackside, quickly followed by the rapid response team and critical life-saving work was carried out over a 20 minute period before Stephen was transferred to the Intensive Care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital where he underwent a series of operations.
Speaking at the launch Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to participate in the launch of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland’s rapid response vehicles today. Getting skilled medical assistance to people in life-threatening situations as soon as possible can be crucial to their survival and even more so in the context of road racing where injuries can be very serious and traumatic indeed.
“I am sure that the presence of the Motorcycle Union’s RRVs will be an important and welcome reassurance to the riders involved at the upcoming road races in Northern Ireland that, should they be unfortunate enough to suffer an injury, expert medical help will be on hand immediately.
“I applaud the volunteer doctors and paramedics who freely give their time to support this important MCUI initiative and wish them every success with their work in future. I would also like to pay tribute to Wilsons and Vauxhall for their very public-spirited support in providing these excellent vehicles to MCUI.”
Recounting what happened last May Stephen McKeever said: “I remember nothing from the crash but doctors at the Royal told me I owe my life and the full recovery I’ve made since, to the quick response and essential treatment including a tube inserted into a collapsed lung, administered by MCUI medics.
“I’m extremely grateful to the whole team of doctors and paramedics who as well as providing immediate and life-saving medical assistance ensured I was transferred quickly to the RVH. Within approximately one hour of the accident in Tandragee I was receiving expert care from the intensive care team in Belfast. Undoubtedly the joint efforts of MCUI medics on the ground and the RVH hospital team saved my life and has enabled me to make a full recovery.”
Stephen spent seven weeks at the Royal Victoria Hospital followed by rehabilitation at Musgrave but was able to leave hospital just in time to be at the side of his partner Jenna for the birth of their daughter Olivia early last July.
“It was fantastic to be out of hospital and be able to support Jenna when Olivia was born,” he said. “This time I was in hospital for all the right reasons! Now 8 months old Olivia is settled and in a routine but is growing up fast!”
Stephen’s body is supported permanently by a number of internal rods and screws, but essential treatment is now completed and only regular six month check-ups are required. Stephen is back full time at work and is embracing life as a new dad.
“I know how lucky I am to be able to do everything that I could prior to the accident as well as work full time and manage all my new parental duties. And all that is in no small measure due to work of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland medical team,” said Stephen.
The full MCUI medical team comprises seven doctors and four paramedics who all work on a voluntary basis and many of the team own their own motorbikes or simply enjoy the racing. A tight knit group some are veterans and have supported the MCUI for up to 30 years whilst others joined the team six years ago.
“Our two rapid response vehicles are essential for our work at national and international road races such as at Tandragee, Cookstown, the Ulster Grand Prix and the Vauxhall International North West 200.” outlined paramedic Caroline Bowles.
“We also cover all short circuit racing in Northern Ireland and the team couldn’t deliver our essential medical services without the backing of Vauxhall who this year have come on board to supply both vehicles.”
Prior to each race event both vehicles are kitted up with a comprehensive range of MCUI funded life- saving equipment including spinal boards, immobilisation units and suction equipment which are necessary to treat traumatic injuries. During a race the medical vehicles are positioned at specific locations close to the race circuit to enable the team to respond quickly and efficiently to a race incident when necessary.
“In addition to rider incidents the MCUI medical team is also on hand to manage spectator medical issues that may arise.” explained Dr Fred McSorley, who has been involved with the team for over 25 years.
Vauxhall Regional Operations Manager for Northern Ireland and Scotland Gordon Hannen said: “We’re delighted to present these two new Vauxhall Vivaro vans supplied by local dealer Wilsons of Rathkenny to the MCUI and its medical team. These vans will play a vital role during the 2013 race season and Vauxhall are proud to support such an important service.”
MCUI (UC) Chairman Jack Agnew also paid tribute to the MCUI medics. “As a body the MCUI is totally indebted to our team of doctors and paramedics who year in year out give of their services on a voluntary basis. Their expertise and commitment to all our local road races and short circuit events is absolutely vital. This year we are also hugely grateful to Vauxhall and Wilsons of Rathkenny for coming on board and providing the MCUI team with vehicles – we simply couldn’t provide this service without their support.”
The new MCUI Vauxhall rapid response vehicles will be on site at all road races and short circuits available during the upcoming motorbike racing season kicking off with the Cookstown 100 on 26th and 27th April and followed by the Tandragee 100, the Vauxhall International North West 200, the Armoy Race of Legends, the Mid-Antrim and the International Ulster Grand Prix.