RAF personnel and MAGPAS to the Rescue… an incredible chain of survival!
In the July/August edition of Eagle eye, we told you all about MAGPAS, the Wyton based Helemedix service that provides frontline medical care to those involved in serious incidents, regardless of location.
In this edition, we are able to share with you ‘Helen’s Story’, that details an incredible chain of survival, which involved quick thinking on the part of two RAF personnel and the specialist skills provided by a MAGPAS Helemedix team.
In May, 2013, Helen McMenamin-Smith was in her car on her way home when, in one horrific life changing moment, she found herself fighting for her life.
Driving along Branch Bank in Littleport, Helen’s car and a motorbike collided at high speed. As a result, the car flipped over, its roof literally caving in on Helen’s head. The motorbike burst into flames on impact and, tragically, the motorcyclist died instantly. Incredibly though, trapped and suffering from life threatening skull fractures, together with severe brain, spine and eye injuries, Helen was somehow still alive… just!
Inevitably, traffic quickly built up after the accident. However, five cars back from the incident Flt Lt’s Chris and Nikki Pearson had already got out to see what the hold up was for. Along with Alan Chapman, a local man who had been driving past the scene and stopped, they quickly ran towards the car, Alan and Chris wasting no time in pulling Helen out of the car window. With their hair and clothes steaming from the heat of the flames, they carried Helen as far away as possible from the burning car. With Nikki, a trainee RAF Doctor, preventing Helen from choking on her own blood, the three passers-by worked together to keep Helen warm and her neck straight.
Responding to a call to provide critical A&E care at the roadside, Magpas Doctor, Wayne Kark and Magpas Paramedic, Ryan Warwick were flown to the scene, first sedating Helen and then anaesthetising her, putting her into a medically induced coma to reduce the effect of her head and other severe injuries. With Helen’s condition constantly being monitored, the Helemedix team then flew her to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for further intensive treatment.
Antonia Brickell, head of Communications at MAGPAS, said: “Helen was obviously in a horrendous state and it is thanks to the extraordinary courage and quick thinking of Alan and Chris that Helen was pulled from her car with seconds to spare. Together, with Nikki, they looked after her for those vital minutes before the Emergency Services and specialist lifesaving A&E care could be flown to her at the roadside. Had it not been for their actions, Helen would not have survived the terrible injuries she endured that day.”
Nearly 18 months later Helen has made a miraculous recovery, and she is the first to admit that she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for everyone involved on the day of the crash. To mark the amazing work of all involved, Helen visited MAGPAS in October with her husband John and their daughter Alyxandra, to meet up with Flt Lt Chris Pearson and Alan Chapman who came to her rescue, and to also meet Magpas Helimedix Doctor Wayne Kark for the first time since the accident. Remembering little about the accident, Helen couldn’t remember Wayne at all.
Describing her emotional reunion with her lifesavers, Helen said: “They are very special people. It’s quite amazing that someone can suffer that extent of injury and be in the position I am in today. I am so incredibly grateful and will do anything to help the Magpas Helimedix in the future. Without them, I wouldn’t be around today.”
Magpas Helimedix Doctor, Wayne Kark said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to see Helen and her family today, knowing that she has made such a fantastic recovery. We would like thanks Chris and Alan for going above and beyond the call of duty, looking after Helen at the scene of that horrific road traffic incident.”
Flt Lt Chris Pearson, who is based at RAF Marham said: “I feel an immense sense of pride being here. I am also in awe of the expert level of care that was brought to Helen by Magpas Helimedix, to get her where she is today. I remember just getting straight into a routine and doing what I could, alongside Nikki. I only did what I am sure someone else would have done for me. It was also heartening to be part of a team in a different way with Nikki; it definitely added another dimension to our relationship.”
Alan Chapman, who also played a crucial role in Helen’s survival, said: “I remember that day so clearly. It was just a case of ‘it needed to be done’. Helen needed help and my only thought was, I couldn’t leave her in that burning car. It’s amazing to see her today. She is a wonderful woman.”
Funding and the Magpas Lottery
On average, it costs £600 to fly an emergency medical mission and the current total annual cost of the charity is just under £2.8 million. The charity receives no Government or National Lottery funding and relies wholly on generous donations from the public. So whether you’re a Magpas Lottery member, an event organiser, a fundraiser, or a Magpas sponsor, this essential organisation really appreciates your support!
If you’re interested in joining the Magpas Lottery, you’ll be in with a chance of winning up to £1,000 per week! Simply log onto the Magpas website: www.Magpas.org.uk and click on ‘Magpas Lottery’ to find out how you can sign up.