Cardiff University staff member uses medical skills to help at the scene of a crash

A Cardiff University employee who leapt into action at the scene of a car crash has spoken of his relief that nobody was more seriously hurt.

Gareth Hughes, Head of Student Health and Wellbeing, was at the Windsor pub in Pontyclun on Thursday 22 July, when a car hit fellow pub goers. Five pedestrians were taken to hospital after the 79-year-old driver suffered what police said was a "medical episode" at the wheel.

The dad-of-two, who has worked at the University since 2014, used his incident management and medical training built up during his 10 years as an Infantry Officer to help the injured and coordinate efforts prior to the emergency services arriving.

He said: "A few of the dads from my son’s school had arranged a night out for a quiet drink and a curry, the first one in a while thanks to Covid. It was a lovely sunny evening, and we were all outside the pub catching up.

"One of my friends Tom, had gone in to get a round when I heard a big bang. I turned and saw the car roll back to its resting position and a cloud of dust.

"I got up quickly and moved around to make an initial assessment and triage the casualties. I asked others from the pub, including my friends to sit with them and keep talking to them.

"The most serious casualty was a man, Darren, 30, who was sitting on the floor. The car had collided with his left leg as he was straddling the picnic bench he was sitting on. I spent the rest of the time trying to do what I could for him and calm and reassure his family who turned up a little later."

"I could see there was a serious injury to his leg and he was in shock. I introduced myself, reassured him before I checked him over for any other injuries and went inside to ask for any first aid kit, some clean towels and soda water to clean and dress his wound."

"The staff at the pub were great. One of the bar staff was on the phone to the ambulance; she was holding the phone next to my head so I could brief them on the situation, while trying to stop the bleeding on Darren’s leg."

Gareth, who has served on four operational tours of Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, added: "I’ve been lucky enough to be trained in how to approach situations like that. I know it was important to keep a cool head. I tried to keep a sense of humour too and I tried to have a bit of a joke with Darren to keep his mind off what was happening. Darren has said since, that this humour has helped him to stay positive about the situation and what will be a long recovery."

"It certainly wasn’t something I was expecting to be doing that night. But it goes to show how unpredictable life can be. Reacting to unexpected situations is something my previous 10-year career in the military has really prepared me for. I’m just glad nobody was more seriously injured and that we were able to act quickly."

The 39-year-old, who has a BSc in Marine Geography from Cardiff University, praised the swift work of everyone at the pub and the Welsh Air Ambulance crew that attended. "There was good bunch of people there; everyone rallied round. There is a great sense of community here."

He’s been contacted by Darren too, who remains in hospital. He said: "I received a lovely message from him on Facebook. I wish him a speedy and comfortable recovery and hope to catch up when he’s on the mend."


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