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Air Ambulance Week
Having recently moved to Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, Spike Sampson (14) and his mother Carrie Courtney, had barely settled into their home when a horrific accident occurred, leaving Spike with devastating injuries and “a 3 per cent chance of survival”.
Spike was an avid longboarder and had been building his skills and confidence, but he was also getting to grips with the road layouts near his home. On Sunday, 11th April 2021, Spike set off on his longboard to cruise down Cautherly Lane. As the hill steepened and curved, he was soon travelling at 50mph, avoiding an oncoming car before hitting the curb with his longboard and crashing into a 400-year-old stone wall.
“All I remember is getting up and looking at my hands. It felt like a really, really bad nosebleed, but that was it. It just goes blank from there.”
Carrie, who was at home wallpapering at the time, had heard the air ambulance and had a terrible gut feeling. “I absolutely knew it was Spike. I was expecting him back at 6.30pm, so he’d been out for 25 minutes. I came off the ladder, grabbed my phone and within a few minutes, I received a call from Spike’s phone, only it wasn’t him. It was a policeman.”
When EHAAT arrived, the team quickly stabilised Spike and placed him into a medically induced coma at the roadside before intubating and ventilating him. He was airlifted to the Major Trauma Centre at Royal London Hospital. Carrie rushed to the hospital shortly after, getting picked up in an unmarked police car, arriving at the hospital in under 30-minutes.
“They said we had to get to The Royal London hospital now. I remember it being cold, looking at the speedometer, the blue lights, and my phone kept ringing. I wished it would stop. I only knew he’d been in an accident, but rumours were circulating on social media that Spike had been hit by a car. I ultimately gave my phone to the police officer in the front of the vehicle, who helped as best they could and contacted the school, who have been outstanding throughout.”
The Chauncy School in Ware were able to request the removal of posts circulating on Facebook during Sunday evening, preventing misinformation from causing more distress to Carrie and her family. Upon arriving at The Royal London Hospital, Carrie said she remembered Dr Sarah Morton from EHAAT, giving her a coffee, kneeling down and holding her hand whilst talking her through the extent of his injuries, which is when “it all started to sink in.”
Spike was rushed to Theatre with a fractured skull, cheekbone and eye socket, with severe damage to the right side of his brain. The team of neurosurgeons removed part[AC1] of Spike’s skull in order to relieve pressure and allow the brain to swell.
After five days in hospital, Spike woke up. He was breathing unaided and could give a thumbs up, but an MRI scan confirmed his brain was damaged on the right frontal lobe – the part that controls emotions and inhibitions.
After 16 days in hospital, Spike underwent a number of operations in order to repair the many fractures he had sustained, including a full facial reconstruction. After a month, he could swallow food, family members could pay Spike a visit with COVID restrictions easing, and by July, Spike was able to return home. He began his rehabilitation placement at The Children’s Trust in Surrey in August and continued to make tremendous improvements.
Carrie documented Spike’s milestones on Instagram, using the social platform as a diary to keep friends and family informed on his situation and progress.
Spike and Carrie recently visited EHAAT’s North Weald Airbase for a tour and heartfelt reunion with the crew. Spike said: “I’ll never stop saying thank you. The air ambulance have been amazing, every step of the way.”
Carried added: “Without EHAAT, Spike wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be able to tell you this story of his remarkable recovery had the Critical Care Doctor and Paramedic not been there. We’ll always be so thankful for the care and support Spike has received up until now – it’s certainly been a journey!”
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