What Would You do if You had a Serious Injury in Your Campervan?

So do you know what you would do if you had a serious injury while you were camping? It’s not really something that I’d ever really thought about, that is until it happened to me back in April…

I was campervanning down on the Dorset coast the other week by myself and managed to get a serious injury which led to a whole drama that ended up with a visit to the local A & E department. It’s all okay now but it did make me think that it would be really good for all campervanners to be prepared for injuries and how to handle them if they do happen.

A Few Days Writing my Book

At the beginning of April, I had planned a few days in our Vivaro campervan down in Dorset by myself to focus on writing my next book (about how to choose the right campervan). I was really looking forward to it as I love this part of the UK and know it well and I was staying on a great campsite which is right on the beach – Golden Cap Holiday Park https://goldencapholidaypark.co.uk/

I’d had a blissful couple of days, writing in the morning in The Anchor Pub, which is a lovely old Inn right on the beach, which does a good coffee and great food. I went walking in the afternoons followed by an evening cosying in the van watching a TV series that I wanted to catch up on (Happy Valley starring the amazing Sarah Lancashire: really recommend as a campervan box-set binge). Yes, I know that I am lucky that this is a work day for me. The next day I was going to meet up with a friend who was staying in a caravan a few miles away for our annual Dorset-coast meet-up.

Cliff Walk to Golden Cap

It was a lovely sunny afternoon; the sea was a beautiful turquoise colour and I decided to go for a cliff walk up to Golden Cap which has spectacular views. I got most of the way up but it started to rain and, that is not the sort of place you want to be in bad weather, so I started to make my way back down.

I was following the path across a field and suddenly rolled on a stone and my left leg went right over sideways. I had good boots on so there was no need for it to do this but it happened anyway. I plopped down on the ground but that didn’t hurt however my ankle didn’t feel good. I managed to get up and was able to walk on it and it didn’t feel too bad and I thought it would just be sore for a couple of days.

I managed to get back to the campsite OK and decided to go for a nice hot shower. I got back from the shower block and was making a cup of tea and suddenly my foot/ankle began to really hurt and I couldn’t put any weight on it. As you can imagine, in a campervan, not being able to walk is a bit of a disaster. By now it was starting to get dark and I phoned my friend (who was a nurse) and she told me what to do for it – basically cold compress and elevate it – but she couldn’t drive over because she was over the alcohol limit for driving.

Had to Call 999

But my ankle was getting worse and it was very swollen, slightly bent and a bit purple and I was beginning to think that maybe I had fractured it. I decided that the only thing I could do was call 999 as I couldn’t drive anywhere.

The very kind person on the other end of the phone thought it would be best if they sent an ambulance so that the paramedics could have a look at it and decide if I needed to come to the hospital or not. Fortunately, I could remember what pitch number I was on as I had to tell them where to find me in the dark!

They arrived about 9.30pm as they had had to come from the County hospital in Dorchester about half an hour away. The paramedics took a look at the foot and thought it might be fractured and put my lower leg in a sort of boot which they inflate to make it rigid which really helped. (They said that sometimes when a joint is injured, the muscles all around it tighten up like a plaster cast and it is not until you relax that the injury really shows itself. The hot shower had relaxed my muscles and then the injury came out).

Thrown out with Crutches!

I spent the next half hour in the back of an ambulance going to a place I hadn’t been to before and I had no idea where the hospital was. It’s really weird emerging from an ambulance in the dark not knowing exactly where you are.

They wheeled me into the A&E waiting area and they eventually x-rayed it and I had to wait several hours to see the doctor who looked at the x-rays and decided that it was damaged ligaments, not broken (thank goodness!). However, it was now around 2am and, after giving me painkillers they basically threw me out with some crutches! OK a bit dramatic, they did call a taxi for me and a very nice taxi driver took me back to the campsite and helped me get in the van where I slept the night. However, the taxi trip had cost £40 which I, fortunately, had in cash in my purse otherwise it could have been a bit difficult.

I had rung my partner, Glyn, back in Wiltshire throughout all this to keep him up to date and he was coming down the next day on the train to drive the van back.

Next morning my friend came over and drove us to the pub for a nice pub lunch and then we collected Glyn from the train station in Axminster. He packed up the van and we drove back to Wiltshire.

It all ended well although it could have been very different (especially if I hadn’t been able to walk down from the cliffs) and I was a bit cheesed-off as I was having such a nice time in the van – getting some good writing done and having great walks.

However, it has made me realise that, as campervanners, it is wise to have some plan of action if anyone is injured or has an acute illness while you are out camping.

Here is how I think you need to prepare for any possible accidents/injuries in the van:

  1. Do you have a good first aid kit? Not only do you need the obvious plasters and bandages but do you have a sanitising spray so that any cuts will not get infected. You might also want to keep a range of painkillers (ibuprofen, paracetamol, co-coldamol). I also like to have anti-histamines for allergies and antacids for gastric upsets. From now on I will also keep a support bandage in our first aid kit.
  2. Do you know where the nearest hospital is? This is easy enough to look up on Google.
  3. If you do need an ambulance, can you explain to them how to find you – the campsite and where you are on the campsite?
  4. Do you have enough cash in case you need to get a taxi or transport to the hospital or doctor if you can’t drive?
  5. How would you get home if the driver cannot drive?
  6. Can you get a phone signal if you need to phone anyone?
  7. Where are the clothes you need to take with you if you do need to go to a hospital? (The paramedics took my sock off to look at the foot but I forgot to take it with me so I had a very cold foot by the time I got back to the van about 3 ‘o’ clock in the morning!)

Maybe you can think of some other things that should be on the list and please let know know if you do.

Hopefully, you will never need to use this knowledge but I think it is better to have it on hand and not need it than to be in a situation where you really need it but don’t have it.

Take care and enjoy your vanning in a safe way.