A “selfless” pair from Shropdoc were the first healthcare professionals to arrive at Chapel Lane in Knockin Heath, just off the A5, and immediately began helping the injured people from the first car while another member of the public who had stopped called the emergency services.
But in the pitch blackness the Shropdoc practitioner didn’t realise at first that two cars were involved, and had begun treating a heavily pregnant woman before it became apparent there was a second vehicle in a nearby field, with three badly injured passengers including an unconscious man.
One of the cars left the road and came to rest in a field soon before 11.30pm on Wednesday. Five people were taken to three different hospitals after being treated on the scene.
Four fire crews from Baschurch, Oswestry and Wellington attended and used cutting equipment to release one patient.
The man who was trapped was in a critical condition, according to West Midlands Ambulance Service.
A spokesman said: “On arrival at the scene, crews discovered two cars with significant damage, one of which had overturned and come to rest in a field. There were three patients from the overturned car.
“A man who was a rear seat passenger had to be cut free from the vehicle. He was treated for very serious injuries and received specialist trauma care at the scene before being transported to Royal Stoke University Hospital, where on his arrival he was described as critical. The doctor travelled on the back of the ambulance to help continue treatment en-route to hospital.
“The front seat passenger, also a man, was already out of the vehicle and was treated for serious injuries before being taken to the same hospital.
“A third man from the car was treated for injuries not believed to be serious and taken to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
“A woman from the second car was taken to Princess Royal Hospital after being assessed at the scene whilst a fifth patient, also from the second car, was taken to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.”
Shropdoc urgent care practitioner Sam Price and a colleague were returning from a patient visit in Oswestry when they came across the first damaged car in the road at about midnight.
Sam, who is from Welshpool has only worked for Shropdoc since March, said her instincts kicked in when she saw the smoking car.
"We have got a duty of care so there is no question that we were going to help in any way we could," she said. "As soon as I realised there were injured people we tried to help."
At first she didn't realise another car was involved, and she helped a pregnant woman from the first car before going into a field with a hand torch to find the second car.
She was able to care for the injured people there, one of whom she said was unconscious. She administered first aid and helped as best she could until the ambulance and fire services arrived.
Sam, 28, said: "I used to work in A&E so I'm used to having to prioritise casualties the best I can. I just tried to assess the situation and look – in total there's five people here, who is most injured?
"Obviously it was a relief when the emergency services arrived – they have the equipment that you need, and they have more than the two pairs of hands. I don't know how long it was but it felt like a long time.
"I did go to A&E myself because I had a piece of glass in my hand. I asked if anyone had any particular update but there wasn't much.
"I'm glad that some of the casualties are now stable, that is my priority. I'm glad I could help people the best I could – I just hope that everyone recovers well."
"I've not managed to sleep very well, I have tried but I think it's the adrenaline and the shock of it."
She returned to work on Thursday, beginning her next 12-hour shift at 7pm – less than a day after the accident.
Dr Simon Chapple, medical director at Shropdoc, spoke of his pride in the pair.
He said: "I have listened to the account of the scene facing the Shropdoc driver and urgent care practitioner when they arrived. It sounded horrific.
"The urgent care practitioner and driver both assessed and assisted the occupants of the first vehicle before becoming aware of a second vehicle in the field adjacent to the road.
"The second vehicle was more badly damaged and the occupants very poorly. The Shropdoc urgent care practitioner provided vital first aid to the injured in this second vehicle, undoubtedly buying time before the arrival of the ambulance service.
Dr Chapple also praised the dedication of NHS staff.
"I'd just like to say how proud I am of these staff and their selfless actions," he added.
"We train for this sort of thing but nothing can truly prepare you for the horror of trauma associated with road traffic collisions. The urgent care practitioner went on to complete the rest of her shift practically uninterrupted, seeing her own patients throughout the night and only finishing 30 minutes early this morning so she could go and get a piece of glass removed from her hand in A&E.
"That's amazing dedication and a perfect example of how hard everyone in the NHS works for patients. I'm sure that Shrewsbury and Telford hospital staff had a busy night too. A difficult and tragic accident but I'm beaming with pride this morning to be part of this team."
The road was closed for several hours after the crash.
Eleanor Harris of West Mercia Police said: "One man in his 20s is in hospital in a serious condition.
"Enquiries are ongoing. Any witnesses should ring West Mercia Police on 101 quoting reference 761s of August 14."