12 year old Charlotte was walking on her usual route from the bus stop towards Netherhall School, but as she crossed the road she was knocked down by a car.
She was thrown onto the bonnet of the car and rolled off the driver’s side onto the road. The driver swerved and fortunately avoided hitting her again.
Charlotte has no memory of the moments leading up to the accident but she was with a group of friends who ran to the school and raised the alarm. A number of clinicians on their commute to the nearby Addenbrooke’s Hospital stopped to assist – including a nurse, physiotherapist, and orthopaedic doctor – until further help arrived.
A staff member from Charlotte’s school phoned her parents, Derek and Catherine, to let them know that she had been involved in an accident, and they had called 999 as a precaution. While Derek prepared Charlotte’s brother and sister for school, Catherine made her way to Addenbrooke’s to await Charlotte’s arrival in the ambulance.
The phone call with the school had not worried Derek and Catherine as the impression was that the accident would have resulted in a minor injury at most. When Catherine saw the crew of East Anglian Air Ambulance getting out of the road ambulance with Charlotte, she realised that it was more serious than she had initially expected.
Dr Sophia de Maria and critical-care paramedic Rob Riches were the crew on shift that day, and because of the city centre location, they had arrived at the scene in the rapid response vehicle instead of the helicopter. They had found Charlotte conscious but laying in an awkward position indicating that her leg was broken. She hadn’t suffered any injuries to her head, largely because she was carrying a large backpack which protected her head from hitting the ground as she fell, but there was still a possibility of damage to her pelvis. Charlotte was administered ketamine to help with the pain, and a pelvic binder was applied. The EAAA crew then stayed with her during her transfer to Addenbrooke’s by ambulance.
When Catherine saw the crew of East Anglian Air Ambulance getting out of the road ambulance with Charlotte, she realised that it was more serious than she had initially expected.
On their arrival at the hospital, Dr Sophia spent some time at Charlotte’s bedside explaining to Catherine what had happened. Charlotte went for a scan which revealed that her femur was broken, which resulted in emergency surgery that afternoon to correct this with metal rods. The accident also caused some liver damage, but fortunately her pelvis had remained intact.
Following the operation, Charlotte was moved onto a children’s ward where she stayed for just over a week until 19 January, which was the day following her 13th birthday.
Since then, Charlotte has made a lot of progress. She was initially reliant on a wheelchair, but can now get around on crutches, and after two months of sleeping downstairs in the living room, she is hopeful of being able to manage the stairs to get back into her own room.
Charlotte and Catherine have since been to the Cambridge base to meet Rob Riches and to see the helicopter. Catherine explained how she was surprised to hear that the EAAA crew turned up in the car as she had thought they only attended in the helicopter. She recalls how comforting the EAAA staff were on the day of Charlotte’s accident.
You encounter EAAA on the worst day of your life, but somehow you feel a sense of relief because you know that your child is in the best possible hands.
Charlotte still suffers with flashbacks but these are decreasing and she has started back at school, initially on a part-time basis while she gets her strength back. There is still a way to go, but life is starting to return to normal for the family, starting with a long-awaited holiday in their caravan on the Norfolk coast!