This National Air Ambulance Week (7th – 13th September 2020), the North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) is raising awareness of the lifesaving impact its service has had on patient lives across the North West.
From 1st September 2019 – 31st August 2020, the charity has completed 2,531 missions across the North West, including 790 in Lancashire. With three helicopters and 4 rapid response vehicles across its Barton and Blackpool air bases, the charity’s crew of highly skilled specialist doctors and HEMS paramedics can deliver enhanced medical care to the most critically ill and injured patients. In cases of serious incidents and accidents, their care can make a lifesaving difference to patients.
In July this year, eleven-year-old Emilia Mercer, from Cowling, North Yorkshire, known lovingly by her family as Millie, was out horse riding with her family in Smithies Bridge, Sawley. After completing a jump, Millie fell off the pony, and its hoof landed with its full weight on her jaw, shattering the jawbone and leaving her in intense pain.
Due to the severity of Millie’s injuries, an NWAA crew was alerted and arrived on scene shortly after, administering IV morphine to help ease her pain. She was then taken, by land ambulance, to Airedale Hospital and later transferred to Bradford Royal Infirmary. Millie had lost four teeth, with doctors successfully replanting three, and underwent surgery on her jaw which had been fractured in the accident.
With Millie at the time was her mum, Faye, and Millie’s sister. Faye said: “The fall and crush from the pony was terrifying to witness. It’s a parent’s nightmare to see your child in pain and not being able to do anything to help them, so watching the charity arrive on scene was such a relief. They handled the situation with such compassion and empathy, calming Millie, and supporting us all. My husband is a vascular surgeon at Bradford Royal Infirmary and has been a long-time supporter of NWAA, but to see them in action really puts what they do into perspective.”
Operating 365 days a year, NWAA is entirely charity-funded. Its crew of Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) paramedics and consultants bring specialist care directly to the scene, ranging from anaesthesia and blood transfusions to surgical interventions. The crew’s work can make the difference between life and death, especially for urgently unwell patients or those involved in traumatic incidents.
Martin Booth, HEMS paramedic at the North West Air Ambulance Charity, was one of the crew members who attended to Millie on the day: “When patients experience traumatic events like Millie did, getting to them quickly is of paramount importance to help ease their pain and make sure they can get to the most appropriate treatment centre, wherever that might be in the region. Alongside this, you’re also aware that the patient is under a lot of mental distress, which is always amplified if it’s a family or friend that’s with them. Reassuring them, and the patient, of what treatments we’re administering and what the next steps help to put them at some ease, seeing that everything’s in hand. It was lovely to hear from Millie and her family, and myself and the crew are so pleased that she’s making a great recovery. We’re so grateful for their support, as it means the service will continue to be there for other patients who need us, just like Millie.”
Now, Millie is ready to head back to school with Faye, and the rest of the family, looking at ways to support the charity. Faye said: “We’re just so grateful for NWAA’s care, professionalism and wonderful help they showed Millie that day. We’ll be doing all that we can to raise money, we hosted an equestrian event with the stables where Millie’s accident happened and raised around £600. Anything we can do to give back and keep them in the skies is our goal.”