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Inspirational: Near-death hot air balloon crash survivor tells her story for the first time

Inspirational: Near-death hot air balloon crash survivor tells her story for the first time

PHOTO CAPTION: Rebecca meets Magpas Dr Rupert Hurry for the first time since the balloon crash on 22nd May 2016

When 22 year old Rebecca Fry (who was living in Norwich at the time) took off in a hot air balloon on a beautiful summers morning in May last year, she felt exhilarated and ready to take in the stunning Northamptonshire scenery on high. The last thing Rebecca expected was the horrific, agonising and life-threatening incident that awaited her.

It was the first flight of the season on the Sunday 22nd May 2016, and Rebecca was floating over Earls Barton alongside eight other hot air balloons. It was around 7:30am, she was smiling and taking a selfie to capture the moment, when she noticed the balloon was getting dangerously close to some power lines. She just managed to get herself into the brace position against the back of the basket, as the balloon hit and pushed up against the power lines. Suddenly, there was a huge flash of light, sparks flew and she felt a shuddering electric shock (around 33,000 volts) pulsate through her body. “I felt as if my neck was going to snap and I remember screaming through clenched teeth,” Rebecca explains.

Within seconds, the basket was on fire; the intense heat of which caused the balloon to shoot up over 100 feet and carry on rising. Rebecca fell to the bottom of the basket. It was at this point her body became numb and she couldn’t feel her right arm and right leg at all. Having pulled herself up, a blistering wave of heat rippled through her, she looked down to see flames licking at her legs and she lost consciousness.

The balloon then burnt away, leaving the basket to freefall, plummeting to the ground. Whilst she was still on fire, a traumatised Rebecca crawled out of the basket and tried to run. She reached for her face and head and started to absorb the full horror of the situation, as her entire fringe came off in her badly burnt hands. “It felt like my legs were sizzling and cooking and I could feel my leggings melting into my legs” she explains.

When the EMAS Ambulance service arrived, Rebecca was losing huge amounts of fluid as her body started to shut down. “The paramedics put a gel pad on my face to protect my facial burns which quite possibly stopped my face from becoming permanently damaged” she relays. The ambulance crew did what they could but realised the severity of Rebecca’s injuries meant she needed specialist knowledge - and fast. When the Magpas Air Ambulance enhanced doctor and paramedic team arrived, Rebecca was in an enormous amount of pain and desperately needed more fluid. Magpas Dr Rupert Hurry and Paramedic Alex Pearce fought hard to get an IV line into her arm (as her body continued to shut down).

The Magpas highly trained medics rolled Rebecca onto a stretcher, soothing her with their reassuring words. She says, “I suddenly felt safe in their hands…I was terrified I was going to die. But I knew I had the best chance of survival thanks to the Magpas Air Ambulance medical team.”

Rebecca was then flown to Birmingham Hospital (the specialist burns unit), where she spent four weeks in the burns centre critical care unit. It’s been a long and gruelling recovery process for her, which is still ongoing, but Rebecca is now ready to tell her story. “I want to thank Magpas Air Ambulance for everything they did for me. Without Magpas, I might have died. I owe my life to them.”

Rebecca’s close family and her boyfriend, Brett, were at Rebecca’s bedside every day to comfort her. After promising to put a ring on her finger as soon as her left hand healed, Brett proposed to Rebecca on New Year’s Eve last year. “I’m so lucky to have family and friends around me who truly care. People say you’ve been so brave, but I just had to keep going, I didn’t have a choice.”

Rebecca points out, “I understand what it’s like to be terrified and be in hideous pain. It can a horribly lonely time. After what I’ve been through, and am still going through, I want to reach out to other people who are experiencing terrible, traumatic times. I want to give them hope and tell them that they will get through it, to hang on in there and believe that life will get better - just as it has done for me.”

To mark almost one year since the crash, Rebecca met and thanked Magpas Doctor Rupert Hurry who flew to her aid. The brave young woman also shared her story with the media, to help raise awareness about the crucial lifesaving care Magpas Air Ambulance delivers, by land and air, in the East of England and beyond.

We would like to thank Rebecca for her courage and dedication to the cause.

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Surviving sister's brave lifesaving legacy

Surviving sister's brave lifesaving legacy

PHOTO CAPTION: Louise Cade and Magpas Air Ambulance Dr Andy Lindsay talk about road safety at The Duke of Bedford School assembly

It was around 3:30pm on 21st January 1994; Louise Cade and her sister Sally Cade and were coming home on the School bus, on what felt like just another normal school day. At the time, the family were living just outside Thorney near Peterborough. Six year old Sally and eight year old Louise got off the bus and waited for it to pull away. They held hands, looked both ways and were crossing the road when a car - seemingly out of nowhere - collided with them at high speed. Louise’s family will never forget the sound of the loud bang the car made on impact.

Louise explains, “My mum got to us as soon as she could. My sister Sally and I were lying in the road. My mother says Sally was smiling at her, whilst I was unconscious. She remembers noticing Sally had fluid coming out of her ear and she knew then it wasn’t a good sign.”

Back in the 1990’s, doctors from around the Eastern Region volunteered their own time with Magpas Air Ambulance and as result; Dr Richards, Dr Knights and Dr Jackson (who all worked at Thorney Surgery) were called out to Sally and Louise. They did everything they could to save the sisters’ lives - in what had become truly devastating circumstances. Sally was first to be taken to hospital in an ambulance (with a police escort), shortly followed by Louise, with the Magpas Doctors on board. Sally died several times en route, as did Louise, but the Magpas doctors repeatedly brought them back to life.

Once at the hospital, Sally and Louise were next to each other in the ICU being treated. Louise explains, “Sally was on a ventilator but sadly died from head trauma and organ failure on the 23rd January.”

Louise had to have gravel sucked out of her lungs (one of which collapsed), she suffered a serious head injury and multiple broken bones, as well as a stroke. She says, “My family tells me I died several times and was not expected to survive. The last time I died, everyone thought I had gone when suddenly I came back - gasping for air, trying to rip the ventilator tubes out of me.”

Her parents were told she would probably not walk and talk again, but Louise was determined to get back to normal. At Sally’s funeral, the family asked only for donations to be made to Magpas Air Ambulance and fundraised for a defibrillator for the charity to use. Not long after, the same Magpas Doctors were called out to another little girl called Rebekah; the defibrillator bought by Louise’s family, was used by Magpas to save her life that day.

Louise has since lost most of her memory of what life was like before the accident. She explains, “It’s really upsetting I can’t remember much about my best friend who I miss dearly - but the motivation, determination and strength to live on has made me the person I am today.” Louise, who is 31, now feels ready to tell her story for the first time. She wants the memory of her sister Sally to live on, by raising awareness for Magpas Air Ambulance who came to her rescue all those years ago. As a result, Louise is teaming up with Magpas former patient Rebekah’s mum - to take part in the Magpas annual skydive this July.

Louise sums up why she’s embarking on such a courageous fundraising venture after everything she’s been through, “My sister means a great deal to me and, like Rebekah and her mum, I want to thank the charity that did so much for me on that terrible afternoon.” Louise continues, “Magpas Air Ambulance trains senior doctors and paramedics, from all around the UK, to bring the hospital to patients in life-threatening situations. I want to gather as many sponsors as I can and help Magpas Air Ambulance give more lifesaving care to others in their time of need.” The link to Louise’s fundraising page is: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JumpingwithSally

Recently, Louise went back to The Duke of Bedford School to talk at the school assembly. Louise told her story, raising awareness about road safety and about the crucial lifesaving care Magpas Air Ambulance delivers, by land and air, in the East of England and beyond. She summed up why this moment was so important to her, “I just want the children to take on the message of road safety and stay safe. I hope the children will take this on board and tell their parents - so that they can be more aware of children on the road. I want to inspire other people with my story.”

Louise was also joined by Magpas Dr Andy Lindsay. He explained how Magpas Air Ambulance offers pioneering training to doctors and paramedics wishing to specialise in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM), for which the charity is renowned in the medical world. He also summarised how he felt about being part of the gathering, “It’s wonderful to see Louise looking so well. Spreading the word about road safety to young children is an incredible investment of our time. It’s great to capture their attention and a real privilege to talk to them”.

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Miracle baby - thanks to advanced skills & knowledge from Magpas Air Ambulance

Miracle baby - thanks to advanced skills & knowledge from Magpas Air Ambulance

In the early hours of Sunday 29th January, expectant mum Shona Fordham from Friday Bridge, went into labour and suffered serious complications. Shona says, “At first everything seemed fine, my waters broke and I started having contractions - then suddenly I just knew something was very wrong. I called out to my partner Jamie to dial 999 as soon as he could. I was hysterical, it was a total nightmare.”

Shona had suffered an umbilical prolapse; in other words the baby's oxygen supply was in severe danger of being cut off.

Within minutes, two first responders arrived at the family home, followed by an EEAST Ambulance Service paramedic crew and then an Magpas Air Ambulance enhanced medical team. Magpas Dr Anne Booth and Magpas Paramedic Alex Pearce had the expert skills and knowledge to help Shona and keep her baby alive. Shona sums up the severity of the situation by saying, “They had just 9 minutes to ensure my daughter survived". Dr Anne and Paramedic Alex then continued to treat Shona en route to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, where she gave birth to a very healthy Daphne-Louise.

Shona explains, “The hospital are calling Daphne a miracle baby and that’s thanks to the advanced care she was given by Magpas Air Ambulance (alongside the emergency services) at our house.”

After Shona got in touch with the charity over the weekend to say a big, heartfelt thank you, Magpas Air Ambulance Dr Anne Booth visited the family home and was given a very warm welcome. Dr Booth says, “It’s absolutely lovely to see the adorable Baby Daphne-Louise and Shona looking so well. They are perfect examples of the critical difference Magpas Air Ambulance can make for people in life-threatening emergencies, in the East of England and beyond.” Anne then added, “We are only able to provide our vital service thanks to generous donations from the public.”

Proud mum Shona finished by saying, “It’s so exciting to meet Anne and to introduce her properly to Daphne-Louise. I can’t believe Magpas Air Ambulance is a charity - as soon as Anne and Alex arrived, they just knew what to do. They literally brought the hospital into our house! If it wasn’t for Magpas Air Ambulance, it would have been a very different story for my daughter and even for me. Jamie and I can’t thank them enough.”

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We gave Matt a second chance at living and he’s grabbed it with both hands!

We gave Matt a second chance at living and he’s grabbed it with both hands!

We always say Magpas Air Ambulance is about the people! Yes, we’re extremely proud of our leading trauma care heritage and training of over 45 years, but it’s the patients that matter the most.

34 year old Matt Stephenson is a perfect example of the critical difference we can make. Matt, whose family have been based in Comberton for many years, got in touch with us recently to share his news:

When he was 20 years old, Matt’s world changed in ways he could never have previously imagined. He explains, “I kissed my girlfriend goodbye, got on my motorbike and said I’d be back in 10 minutes. Less than a mile down the road, a car pulled out and didn’t see me. My bike smashed into the car and I flew 120 feet over the top of my bike and landed in the middle of the road. I was literally injured from the very top of my head to the very tip of my toes and was fighting for survival. I don’t remember the Magpas enhanced medical team arriving, but I know I wouldn’t be alive today without their incredible lifesaving care.”

So how’s Matt doing now? Here’s what he had to say, “Since graduating from my masters I’ve set up a company, bought a flat in London and met a lovely woman who is now, I am happy to say, my wife! As the now Mrs Suzanne Stephenson is Australian, I have made the decision to leave The Old Smoke and start a new life Down Under. Obviously, none of this would be possible without the incredible Magpas Air Ambulance. Thank you to your doctor and paramedic team for giving me my life back and for saving countless other lives too. A huge thank you from us both, take care and keep up the vital work that you do!”

We are proud of our record in saving lives, like Matt’s, across the East of England and beyond. Magpas Air Ambulance needs to raise around £4.8m to keep our service running 24/7, as ever that funding comes in the form of public donations and subscriptions to our Lottery.

If you would like to make a donation, please click here http://www.magpas.org.uk/worldpay

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Bedfordshire boy reunited with ‘amazing’ lifesavers after serious road traffic incident

Josh with the ambulance service copy

A boy who was seriously injured after being crushed between two cars has had the chance to meet some of his life-savers.

Josh Bright (11), suffered multiple broken bones, and has had to undergo a number of operations to straighten the growth of his legs.

The incident, which happened last year in Tavistock Street, Bedford, was a dark day for him and his family.

But after a long journey to recovery, Josh has since been reunited with the ambulance staff at Kempston ambulance station, and also with the Magpas Air Ambulance Paramedic, who treated him.

Speaking of the incident, dad Nick said: “We decided to treat Josh to an Indian meal that night; we had finished and were waiting to cross the road to our car when a car hit Josh. It all happened so fast it was hard to process what had happened at the time. Luckily people in the restaurant called 999 immediately.”

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received a call at 9.46pm and sent multiple resources including the Emergency Care Practitioner Lyn Munden, and Senior Paramedic Russell Dilley who arrived on scene in five and a half minutes, shortly followed by the Magpas specialist medical team.

Josh was treated at the scene by the ambulance service, before Magpas Doctor Nick Scott and Paramedic Keir Rutherford arrived and sedated Josh, providing him with specialist A&E care there and then. Josh was then taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and he has since gone on to live like a normal boy, according to dad Nick. He said: “I’m so happy he is able to run around like kids his age should. That wouldn’t be the case if it wasn’t for the speed and care Josh received from EEAST and Magpas. It was so reassuring to have the highly trained Magpas team there; I’d hate to think what would have happened to Josh without the advanced treatment Magpas provided him with at the scene. All the emergency services were amazing and we are all very grateful for that.”

Lyn said it was much nicer to meet Josh again under different circumstances. She added: “He probably doesn’t remember me from that day but it’s nice to know that he has made such a strong recovery, he is a lovely boy.”

Magpas Paramedic Keir Rutherford said, “It was a pleasure to see Josh and his family again. I'm glad to see that he is recovering well from the serious injuries he sustained. Josh is a great example of how a regional trauma network, from timely pre hospital critical care through to ongoing rehabilitation, can make a massive difference to patients suffering major trauma in the East of England.”

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