7th Dec 2018
It was the weekend and Matt had been asked to carry out a private plumbing job for one of his clients. He prepped and scanned the site just like he always did – everything looked fine. He started to dig down into a drain and was just about to finish when he struck a cable, sending a shockwave of electricity through his entire body.
"The explosion was horrific – they think it was something like 7m high. I was 2m in the ground and it burnt a wall 3m away from me" Matt explains.
"The electricity passed through my hand, up my right arm and down into my spine before coming out of my right thigh and leaving an exit-wound. I remember lying on the floor while an off-duty fireman and his mum gave me first aid."
Within 9 minutes of the 999-call being made, London's Air Ambulance together with London Ambulance Service paramedics were on the scene and starting to treat Matt.
"The medical team could see I was badly burnt as they arrived and they set about treating me quickly. They gave me Ketamine, which is a powerful painkiller, before proceeding to a general anaesthetic. I was then airlifted to Battersea heliport and land-transferred to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which was the nearest burns centre.
At Chelsea and Westminster, Matt was treated for severe burns which included superficial, partial thickness and full thickness burns to his face, hands, arms and chest. He then went on to receive further treatment from Broomfield Burns unit.
"Just a few years before I had been a soldier. Coming into the street and being hurt near home was probably the worst thing ever for me. Mentally, I really struggled to cope.
"Eventually I started speaking on behalf of the charity, telling people how the service had helped save my life and helped my family. I wanted to be a voice for London's Air Ambulance after everything the team did for me.
"Things are a lot better today. The injury has made me who I am. I'm working as a health and safety instructor and I can use my experience to help change perspectives – people can really see where my passion comes from and showing photos of my injuries encourages them to take health and safety seriously.
"I think fate played a big part that day. If London's Air Ambulance hadn't come to help me, I'm not sure I would have made the recovery I have made. If anyone has just a couple of pounds spare and they're walking past a bucket, please give. You never know if you or someone in your family might need the service one day."