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“I’m immensely grateful I was able to get the care I needed quickly.”
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Air Ambulance Week
It was a run-of-the-mill day for nurse Laura Francis (39). Having just finished her night shift on the Accident & Emergency ward at Colchester Hospital, Laura made her way to Ardleigh around 11am on 22nd November 2020 to take her horse for a jumping lesson.
The training was going to plan, but as Laura gained momentum and approached a routine jump, her 15-year-old horse D’Artagnan stopped in his tracks and rose up, sending Laura crashing to the ground.
“I’ve only fallen off a horse a handful of times, and normally I would jump up and get back on, but I just remember laying there thinking something’s really wrong. My instructor kindly ran my horse back to the yard whilst I called an ambulance. At first, I just thought I needed some gas and air, but the panic soon began to set in.”
Pre-hospital Care Doctor Jess Payne and Critical Care Paramedic James Mullett arrived at the scene via the MD902 helicopter, making a safe landing once the riding instructors had secured all of the horses. Upon arriving at the scene, they were joined by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Doctor Jess Payne administered ketamine to relieve Laura’s pain and allow her to be moved comfortably from the field to the ambulance. The air ambulance crew went with Laura in the ambulance to provide further pain relief on route to the hospital.
“I remember thinking there was clearly something wrong with my arm. I was in agony – but I don’t recall getting from the field to the ambulance, which was three fields away.”
Upon arriving at Colchester Hospital – the same hospital Laura had worked at for six months in A&E – she was greeted by familiar faces.
“I knew all of the nurses in RESUS and had my friends looking after me, but also my boyfriend James, who was a staff nurse at the time. It was daunting being on the other side, but the whole team were fantastic!”
After being given pain relief and some initial tests, Laura had broken the top of her left arm and was required to wear a brace and a sling for 21 weeks. As a nurse and a mother of four, the recovery process had its challenges, but Laura received support from her family and can now move her arm more efficiently. She was able to return to work at full capacity seven months later.
“I was very much aware of air ambulances and the amazing work they do, but I felt so bad knowing how stretched frontline workers were at the time, so I’m immensely grateful I was able to get the care I needed quickly. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone involved, from the air ambulance crew who administered the drugs to the ambulance crew who got me to the hospital so quickly and all of the nurses and doctors at Colchester who looked after me.”
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