It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon in February 2014 when Tara McIntyre set off for the local shops in her Ford Ka, on the way to visiting her Nan and Grandad. Just a mile or two from home, along the A131 near Braintree, a speeding drink-driver crashed into the side of her car with a force that left it a crumpled wreck.

Yet the impact on Tara was to be even more devastating and would see her fighting for her life over the weeks to come.

Within 15 minutes, a Pre-hospital Care Doctor and Critical Care Paramedic from Essex & Herts Air Ambulance had arrived at the scene, where they found Tara trapped in the car as the Fire Service worked to free her.

John McCusker, Critical Care Paramedic, said: “We quickly identified that Tara was in a critical condition and we worked together with the emergency services to get her out of the car safely and with greater speed. A thorough head-to-toe assessment revealed life-threatening head, chest and pelvic injuries requiring Tara to be anaesthetised and ventilated at the roadside. We also decompressed both sides of her chest and administered concentrated fluids to reduce brain swelling before stabilising her pelvis with a splint to help stop internal bleeding.”

“Addenbrookes was the nearest Major Trauma Centre able to deal with all of Tara’s injuries. Taking her by air saved precious time and, before flying, we activated the hospital’s ‘major haemorrhage protocol’ to ensure everything was in place for her arrival.”

Tara was to remain at Addenbrookes for three months initially in an induced coma, before progressing to a rehabilitation facility.

Tara is gradually regaining the life she had before her nightmare ordeal began, defying doctors’ predictions as she learns to walk and talk again.

Tara’s father John said: “If it wasn’t for the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance team Tara wouldn’t be here today. They saved her life and the whole family is just so incredibly grateful for what they did that day.”

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