Horse rider Ruby, 13, owes her life to our lifesaving crew

Published: 8th August 2023

The first day at high school is always one to remember – but for Radcliffe teenager Ruby Hayes it will be a day she will never forget for more traumatic reasons.

Ruby, now 13, had just finished her first day at school, while riding her pony, Nero, she suffered a horrific accident.

They were galloping across a field near to her home when Nero tripped. Ruby was thrown under his feet and trampled on, sustaining injuries to her face and body. She also lost a lot of blood from a facial injury and started to drift in and out of consciousness.

The North West Air Ambulance Charity was dispatched due to the nature of Ruby’s injuries. When they arrived on scene, the doctors and critical care paramedics set about comforting Ruby and her mum Sinead, as well as administering pre-hospital care and performing emergency surgery to save her eye.

Ruby holding helmet of air ambulance crew, stood in front of one of the charity's helicopters

Ruby’s mum Sinead said: “When the air ambulance crew arrived, it was like a strange calm came over everyone. The team seemed to take absolute control of the whole situation. I remember thinking it was like a beautiful, choreographed dance. They knew exactly what to do. Ruby was awake, vomiting, and in so much pain. They sedated Ruby and carried out an on-the-spot operation to relieve the pressure on Ruby’s eye at the scene.”

Eimhear, Emergency Consultant Doctor with Salford Royal and the North West Air Ambulance Charity, was on the helipad at Preston when her and medical team partner Andrew got the call.

She said: “Critical care for us isn’t a place, it’s a thing. We bring hospital-level interventions – that were historically only done in critical care settings – to the patient at the roadside.

“With injuries to the head, you can’t see the damage inside to the skull and the brain. And unfortunately for Ruby, her trajectory got worse. We put Ruby in a medically induced coma. When we put her to sleep, we gave her brain a rest. Being on scene, getting the right care, getting them to the right hospital at the right time – helps save lives – and probably saved Ruby’s eye.”

Ruby was carefully put on the helicopter with her mum and they were flown to Manchester Children’s hospital in just six minutes during rush hour.

Ruby, her mum Sinead, Doctor Eimhear and Critical Care Paramedic Andy stood in front of the charity's helicopters

Sinead added: “I dread to think what would have happened if the air ambulance hadn’t been there. They really did provide lifesaving care. In the time it would have taken by ambulance, we had flown there by helicopter and had all the necessary checks and scans. I’m sure that without the North West Air Ambulance Charity Ruby would have lost her sight.”

When Ruby arrived at the hospital, the crew carried out a thorough handover to staff who were prepared for her arrival. She spent three days in Intensive Care before being transferred to the high-dependency ward – spending around two weeks in hospital.

The family have raised over £3,400 for the charity so far – with no intention of stopping any time soon. Sinead and her partner Alan have even asked for charitable donations instead of wedding gifts when they tie the knot in September.

After spending some time in hospital and recovering at home, Ruby is now back at school and riding horses again. In fact, she was horse riding just a few months after the accident and competing in pony dressage competitions with her new pony Tilly.

Sinead added: “It has been a tough road, and her recovery is still ongoing. She will need further surgery on her eye but she’s very resilient. Thanks to North West Air Ambulance Charity, Ruby is alive, and she can still see.”

Ruby has now had the opportunity to say thank you to the North West Air Ambulance Charity team, who saved her life after being invited to the charity’s Barton base.

Sinead said: “It was a really emotional day. Ruby got to sit in the pilot seat of the helicopter and we learnt about the kit that the medics wear and the equipment the aircraft carries. Following the accident, I used to cry when I saw the air ambulance in the sky. Now, I cheer and say ‘Yeah, go and save a life’.”

Watch Ruby’s Story

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