29th Mar 2021
I was taking my youngest son, Harry (aged 10) to school in July 2018. It was like any other day. I was driving along the A2070 to Hamstreet in Kent, a road which is renowned for accidents, when a car veered into me. I didn’t have time to react.
My car spun 180 degrees and went into a ditch. I don’t remember feeling panicked – in fact I was very calm. I even managed to give my husband’s telephone number to a witness at the scene whilst other witnesses helped Harry out of the car. Harry is very resilient and took all of this in his stride.
I was very lucky. One of the drivers in the queue of cars which built up behind me was an off-duty paramedic. When someone called 999, he conveyed information from the scene of the accident and reported that I’d need the assistance and expertise of the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS). The ambulance, fire brigade, police and KSS all arrived quickly – as did my husband. I was conscious throughout and it took about two hours for the fire brigade to cut me out of the car. Although I couldn’t move, I felt reassured – I knew that I was surrounded by a team of people with the right skills to help me.
The doctor from KSS oversaw everything. He advised the team at the scene and liaised with King’s College Hospital, where there is a major trauma unit, about the assessments that I would need as soon as I arrived. No one was sure if I had internal bleeding or how severe my injuries were so they were extremely cautious when moving me. The KSS paramedic gave me sedation so they could treat my injuries and manage my pain and I was flown to King’s College Hospital where a fully briefed team was waiting for me. After being thoroughly scanned, I received the good news that there wasn’t any internal bleeding.
However, I had 23 complex fractures including five in my spine.
I stayed in hospital for eight weeks and had surgery on my right leg and foot, left knee, left arm and right elbow. Harry was initially taken by ambulance to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford as his injuries weren’t so severe but he was then transferred to King’s College Hospital as he had a lacerated spleen. Luckily, his spleen stopped bleeding without needing any intervention. He had a fractured collar bone too but fortunately he recovered quickly. By the end of the summer 2019 he was able to return to all his usual sporting activities and he went on to pass his Eleven-plus exam in September 2019 which we were very proud of.
When I finally came home, I was still unable to walk and required extensive rehabilitation and physiotherapy to regain my mobility. I have had a lot of surgery over the last year because of ongoing complications and to take the metal plates out of my foot and arm. By the beginning of March 2021 I had three metal plates and 31 screws and pins removed. I still don’t have full use of my left hand but I am generally fit and healthy and know that I’m lucky to be alive.
We can’t thank KSS enough. Having spoken afterwards to the Police and Kent Fire & Rescue team it was clear that my car helped to save me from serious head or internal injuries, but the scale and complexity of my condition required the amazing expertise of KSS who provided critical care at the scene before ensuring I quickly got to King’s where the surgeons could operate on me. It was fate that Harry and I were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we were very lucky to have such a highly skilled team on hand from all the emergency services to ensure that we received the best possible care.
We have visited KSS in Redhill since the accident. It was amazing to see the doctor who had looked after me and to tell him how grateful I am for the specialist care that I received at the scene of the accident. He was able to inform me about some key details that I hadn’t remembered – I found that really helpful.
I wasn’t previously aware that KSS is a charity. We live in a rural community on the Romney Marsh and had no idea prior to the accident how many of our friends support KSS. When we discovered that KSS needs to raise £15 million a year to remain fully operational, we wanted to play a role in helping them to raise funds.
We decided to organise a fundraiser for KSS in 2019 and this gave me a real sense of purpose whilst I was recovering after the accident, particularly as this was at a time when I couldn’t work and I was physically limited in my mobility.
We organised a ticketed event, with food, drink and a live band, and sold over 400 tickets. We had fantastic support from local businesses who provided prizes for a raffle and an Auction of Promises and, in just one night, we raised £27,397. It was really important to us as a family to be able to fundraise for KSS and we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our family, friends and local community.
My three children subsequently decided to take part in KSS’s fitness fundraiser, Run 31 in March 2021. Now that we know so much more about KSS, we are continuing to fundraise for them when we can. KSS’s service is genuinely life-saving - you really never know when you are going to need it. I feel so fortunate that when I needed their expertise, the KSS specialist doctor and paramedic were there for me.
“We were notified of an RTC involving a car in a ditch and two patients who were trapped. We were dispatched from our Redhill base in our AW169 helicopter and arrived within approximately 20 minutes. We were given a handover by an off duty Critical Care Paramedic who had stopped to help and then we started our work. Our collaborative approach on scene with our colleagues from South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Kent Police was vital as it meant we were able to treat and free Wendy and Harry from the vehicle safely and effectively. It was clear that Wendy had sustained a number of complex injuries, which meant it was imperative that we got her to hospital as quickly as we could. A clinical area was quickly established at the scene before we administered strong painkilling and sedative medications to allow us to reduce her fractures to normal alignment and then transport her to hospital by air, arriving at King’s within 15 minutes. Harry was treated and then taken to the William Harvey Hospital by SECAmb."
"It is wonderful to hear how well both Harry and Wendy are doing and we send them our very best wishes and sincere thanks for all that they are doing to support our charity. It was both emotional and heart-warming for our crew to welcome them and their family back to our base in 2019.” Adam Ormrod, KSS Paramedic