I will never forget the day the London Air Ambulance team came to the rescue when my son, Jacob, then aged 8 was injured in a car crash. It was a dark, wet November morning and I was on the same school run I had done every day for years. Jacob had chatted excitedly about all the work he was going to show me that night at Parent’s Evening and then he had stopped talking to read his book.
And then it happened.
As the shock of my air bag exploding subsided my immediate reaction was obviously to look back to check on my son. My beautiful boy was in his seat, the book he had been reading still in his lap, but his eyes were closed, blood was pouring from his forehead and when I shouted his name there was no response. The panic I felt was indescribable – but quickly everything I had learned from my first aid training kicked in and I managed to calm myself enough to go through the pneumonic that had been drummed into me – DRSABC –check for Danger, check for a Response. Shout for help, check Airway, check Breathing, check Circulation/start CPR. I was fine with the D R S but after that I froze. Petrified that I had lost him I could not bring myself to check whether he was breathing and I turned to a driver who had stopped and begged him to look, listen and feel for me as I watched. “He’s breathing” – as soon as I heard those words I was able to carry on. Another passer by had already called an ambulance but in heavy rush hour traffic it was taking what felt like a lifetime to reach us. I grabbed his mobile and explained to the emergency services controller that my son was unconscious with a severe head injury and that I did not want to move him in case of spinal injury. The controller was amazing, she calmed me down and told me that the air ambulance team was on it’s way.
By now the paramedics were on scene but they could not get my son out of the car safely and were monitoring him while we waited for the fire brigade to arrive. As the paramedics took over I was in a daze, shock setting in and the next thing I remember is seeing the firemen cutting the car apart and then the Air Ambulance team arriving.
It took a while for them to stabilise my son and to transfer him to the Royal London Hospital. Still unconscious it was impossible for them to tell me what damage had been done – I would never have got through that journey without falling apart had it not been for the wonderful paramedic who held my hand and talked to me all the way to the hospital.
Once we arrived, the Air Ambulance handed over to the A&E paediatric team and I was taken to a room where my family were waiting for me. After an agonising wait, the consultant came to see us. Jacob had been put into an induced coma so that his breathing could be stabilised, there was no spinal injury or obvious brain injury “but” he said, , and I will never forget these words “It’s a bit like when you drop a television… you don’t know until you switch it back on whether it will work properly”!
Jacob was transferred to the ICU at Great Ormond Street Hospital and there we waited, and waited. Some 24 hours later, as I sat by his side I noticed his fingers move and then I saw his eyes open and adjust to the light. I kissed his head and told him he was in hospital and that he had been hurt in a car accident. His first words were, “But what about Parent’s Evening?” – I turned to my family and said with a huge sense of relief “The television seems to be working just fine. “
Jacob made a full recovery and but for the “Action man” scar on his forehead you would never know he had been injured.
And here we are 10 years later – he’s off travelling the world before starting University and I am here trying not to worry and counting my blessings every single day.