TO PUT it simply, he is lucky to be alive.

As the helicopter he was travelling in plummeted to the ground, Michael Rosser believed his time was up.

Strange noises in the engine confirmed those fears and as his friend, who was flying the helicopter, turned to him and asked “river or trees” it was hard to imagine there was any other outcome.

But amazingly the 47-year-old and the two other men in the aircraft survived the impact of the crash that saw them smash through trees and into a field, stuck in the middle of nowhere.

But the drama was far from over.

Michael awoke to find himself stuck in the middle of the wreckage with a fire having broken out on one of the helicopter’s blades.

‘Sack of bones’ He was practically a sack of broken bones, but he says: “I just had to pull myself together and get out of there. I had no choice. I told myself that I didn’t want to be barbecued today and got up.”

Having survived all that, the last thing Michael wanted to see was another helicopter.

But had it not been for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance being able to whisk him direct to Southampton General Hospital’s £1.2m helipad, his luck might have run out.

When told he was going on board he said: “I really don’t want to go in there.”

But when medics explained just how serious the situation was, he knew it was the best thing to do.

With nine broken ribs, a fractured breastbone, shoulder and arm, and a broken collarbone, plus internal damage caused by being crushed by a tree branch, getting him to hospital was vital for his survival.

A journey by road from Salisbury, where the crash happened, to Southampton would have taken more than an hour, but his trip by air was a swift ten minutes.

Thanks to the new helipad, there was no stop-off at the old landing pad in Lordshill, followed by a road ambulance to the hospital, causing a 30-minute delay Within 90 seconds of landing he was being treated in intensive care.

His flight was one of 319 that has touched down on the helipad since it was launched a year ago, which has exceeded the high expectations of Southampton’s top medics, including Dr Charles Deakin, Dr David Sutton and Dr Andy Eynon, who fought so long to get it.

Michael, a director of a development company in Bath, said: “Having just crashed to the ground in a helicopter, the last thing I wanted to do was get back onto another one. It was deja vu.

“But when I realised how far we were from anywhere and how disastrous a journey by road would have been for me, I agree to go on board.

“Had I gone by road, I might never have made it, and with the bumpiness of the roads, I probably would have broken even more bones than I already had.

“The helicopter transfer significantly reduced the time it took to get to Southampton General Hospital from over an hour to less than 15 minutes, which is clearly lifesaving.

“I will never know what would have happened to me if I hadn’t been airlifted to hospital, but had I been left in that field I definitely wouldn’t be here today.

“My recovery was made much quicker thanks to the swift journey to hospital, and the team at Southampton were fantastic.”

Michael had to spend five weeks in hospital before being allowed home, where he faced eight weeks in bed as his body continued to heal.

But just ten months on he has fully recovered and is back at work.

Dr Eynon, director of major trauma at Southampton General Hospital, added: “There is no doubt that the helipad has been an important addition to the facilities here at Southampton General Hospital.

“With more than 300 landings taking place in its first year, it is evident that the helipad has been a great success in reducing transfer times to the hospital.

“While the majority of patients using the helipad have sustained major trauma, many other patients with time-critical illnesses such as heart attacks have also benefited.

“We are extremely grateful for all of the support we have received in bringing this to fruition and know that the helipad will continue to help save the lives of critically ill patients for years to come.”

l To help fund the helipad donate to the HELP Appeal by calling 0800 3898 999.