HomeÂine’s Story 🎬

Âine’s Story 🎬

“It means a lot to spend this Christmas with family”

Âine’s Story 🎬

Recent data from the Department for Transport states there were 133,443 reported road casualties during the year ending June 2023, with 29,429 people killed or seriously injured. 

At Essex & Herts Air Ambulance, our critical care team responded to 2,582 missions in 2022, which included 519 road traffic collisions. These statistics not only serve as powerful reminders of the dangers on our roads, but represent real-life stories of people who have lost loved ones or been profoundly affected by life-changing injuries. Among those is Ȃine’s story.

On a dark, cold and wet New Year’s Day, 25-year-old Ȃine and her boyfriend Lewis met with friends to celebrate the start of 2023 at their local pub in South Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford. As they were walking home around 9pm, a car travelling at 40 miles per hour mounted onto the pavement in front of Lewis, colliding into the back of Ȃine. 

Reflecting on the immediate aftermath, Lewis said: “She was unresponsive on the floor. As I went over to her, the car had driven off, and then my friend was the one who made the call to the ambulance.”

Zoe Spurgeon, a critical care paramedic at EHAAT, was a key figure in our emergency response. Like many of our paramedics, Zoe is seconded to us by East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) and was stationed on the critical care desk based in the Emergency Operation Centre in Chelmsford. Recognising the gravity of Ȃine’s situation, she activated Essex & Herts Air Ambulance. 

Despite poor weather conditions, two critical care teams were mobilised. Critical Care Paramedic James Samouelle and Pre-hospital Care Doctors Dr Amy Hughes and Dr Craig Domke arrived within 17 minutes joining EEAST crew members and Essex Police at the roadside. Our night crew arrived 11 minutes later, with Ben Finbow and Dr Dominic Rayment joining the efforts before taking over Ȃine’s care.

Ȃine was disorientated, visibly distressed and having difficulty speaking. Suspecting a brain injury, the combined experience of the EHAAT crew took the decision to convey her to a major trauma centre (MTC) where she could receive the best possible care on what is often one of the busiest days of the year for hospitals across the region. In further support of this decision-making process, our on call consultant Dr Gareth Davies supported their decision to transport Ȃine to The Royal London Hospital, an MTC equipped with neuro specialists. This high-level support and collaboration facilitated access to the best possible treatment for her injuries, underscoring how all the pieces of the chain came together.

As emphasised by Ben: “This is important for patients because obviously every second counts. Ȃine could get the scans and the treatment straight off rather than awaiting a secondary transfer.” 

Ȃine sustained a skull fracture with extensive bruising and an extradural haemorrhage, which is a bleed between the skull and dura mater – the protective lining of the brain. She also fractured her C5 vertebrae (located near the middle of the neck). Ȃine was wearing a rucksack with her laptop, which was crushed, but she believes it possibly saved more fractures to her back. 

Ȃine has no recollection of the first five days in the hospital, but when she finally woke, she couldn’t recall names and asked, ‘where is my person’. Her family managed to contact Lewis via a video call, and that lit up a beaming smile. She has worked hard to recover from her brain injury, and tiredness is one of the side effects. At the time of writing, Ȃine has ongoing rehabilitation with a neurophysiotherapist and her recovery has been ‘better than expected’, incredibly she has been able to return to work part-time. 

“My life’s returned in large parts back to how it was before the injuries. I really didn’t know that much about the air ambulance before. I don’t know how I would be now if I hadn’t been seen by EHAAT. You are with them for life once you’ve received care from them. They want to help the public in every way they can to provide the best care. I find that really amazing, and it means so much to me. It’s worked out far better than we could have ever imagined, and it means a lot to me to spend Christmas with my family and my boyfriend.”

Looking back at the incident and Ȃine’s recovery so far, Lewis added: “I don’t necessarily think she’d be alive if they hadn’t come to help. Ultimately, you know, every single decision was made for the better. And without having that experience, knowledge and quick response, you would end up with a much worse outcome. Without that service, I probably wouldn’t have Ȃine right now. You are not necessarily always confronted with these things in your day-to-day life, but when you are, it’s so important that they’re there.”

At EHAAT, we are calling on all people across Essex, Hertfordshire and beyond to help reduce accidents, ease the pressure on emergency services, and ultimately prevent deaths and serious injuries by not speeding. By travelling safely this festive season, we can keep more families together. 

National statistics: Reported road casualties in Great Britain, provisional estimates: year ending June 2023.

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