Cornwall LivingIssue #103

Saving lives in 2020

As a vital part of the emergency services in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, despite the lockdowns, Cornwall Air Ambulance has had to find a way to go on.

Illness and injury haven’t gone into lockdown and despite the pandemic, the need for critical care by air has continued to rise. With a brand new helicopter, the crew of Cornwall Air Ambulance attended hundreds of patients in 2020, saving countless lives and keeping families together. One of those people was Keith.

Critical care paramedics Thomas and Lisa were tasked to reports of a quad bike incident not far from the charity’s base in Newquay. Arriving at the scene, they found 63-year-old farmer Keith had been hit by a trailer and quad bike. He suffered life-threatening chest injuries and was struggling to breathe.

As they assessed his condition, Lisa noticed air bubbles under the skin on Keith’s back – known as surgical emphysema, this indicates that air is leaking from lungs under the skin. 

Thomas said: “My first impression of Keith was of someone who looked very ill, he was pale and had obvious injuries to his head and chest. I was a bit worried for him.”

“Patients that are in pain and have been involved in a traumatic incident are scared, so it’s quite a normal reaction to be emotive. It’s part of our role to reassure them that they are in safe hands. For Keith it was about getting his pain under control and facilitating the rescue from the scene.”

The critical care team administered morphine and ketamine to help Keith with the pain before he was transferred into the helicopter.

From there, it was a 20 minute flight to Derriford Hospital, where he spent a week recovering from multiple injuries.

Following the incident, Keith said: “It was my breathing I was most concerned about. I was relieved when they turned up. They were great, it makes the back of my eyes sting with the kindness.”

 The Covid-19 pandemic brought about challenges both in the way the critical care crew operate, but also in how the charity raises the funds to keep the helicopter flying. “Spreading the message of Cornwall Air Ambulance far and wide has been key to keeping those vital donations coming in,” explains Paula Martin, Cornwall Air Ambulance’s Chief Executive. “We partner with local businesses to help do that and it’s thanks to those such as Engine House Media, Hilltribe Media, Fernbank Advertising and Pirate FM (among many others), that we have been able to continue saving lives. Thank you to everybody who has supported Cornwall Air Ambulance this year.”

Cornwall Air Ambulance
01637 889926