On 26th June 2018, Joanne Woodcraft from Epping was a few minutes from home when a neighbour called to let her know that Joanne’s son Harry had been in an accident near his house. Cycling over a manhole cover, Harry had been thrown from his bike into a lamppost, fracturing his skull.

Joanne recalls, “When I first got the call I thought ‘what’s he done now?’ He’s a typical 14-year-old boy, always getting into scrapes. When I saw him, I knew it wasn’t good.

“He was in a really distressed state lying on the ground and his arms and legs were flying everywhere. A land ambulance arrived, then another, but they couldn’t calm him down. Next thing I saw the air ambulance flying over and a couple of minutes later the EHAAT critical care team arrived.”

EHAAT’s Pre-hospital Care Doctor Stelios Elia and Critical Care Paramedic Tony Stone immediately took control of the situation.

“Once they’d got everyone out of the way, Stelios introduced himself, told me what was happening and what they were going to do. He was so calm that he instantly made me feel so much better. When they said they were going to put a breathing tube into Harry I knew things were serious. The team was so reassuring, but it was still a bit of a shock to see him ventilated. Stelios told me they wanted to take him directly to The Royal London Hospital, a major trauma centre.”

Joanne accompanied Harry on the flight.

“I was glad I was able to fly with him. They asked if I was scared of heights or got travel sick. When they asked if I had been in a helicopter I said only once – on a tour of New York. ‘It’s not like that!’, they said.

“When I said Harry will be gutted to have had a flight in the helicopter and not know about it, one of the pilots said ‘take a photograph’. Showing it to him when he woke up was really helpful.”

After arriving at The Royal London Hospital, Harry was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for an operation to deal with a bleed on his brain.

“He’s doing really well now. He was in a medically induced coma for 6 days. When they brought him off the drugs they said to expect 24 hours before you see a difference, but within two or three hours he was blinking and that evening he was awake. Within a week he was home.

“We’re incredibly lucky to live where we do and that the air ambulance was really close by that day. The EHAAT critical care team were incredible. They were so in control and calm. Nothing seemed to faze them and they were so good at communicating what was happening.”

A few weeks after leaving hospital, Harry and Joanne were reunited with Stelios and Tony Stone at EHAAT’s North Weald Airbase, where they were able to explain to Harry and Joanne what they had done for him.

“Harry thoroughly enjoyed his visit. I will always hold them in high regard for what they did for Harry. I’m sure the fact that they got there so soon played a big part in Harry’s recovery.”

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