Helicopter ER 2023: Doncaster mum left with severe injuries including fractured skull in a dramatic car crash saved by Yorkshire air ambulance crew
Her Mercedes suddenly veered off a low-lit rural road and crashed into a tree in a roadside woodland. A passing motorist rushed to her aid, called 999 for help and stayed with her, offering her reassurance, until help arrived.
It only took seven minutes after the call for Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s (YAA) critical care team based at Nostell Air Support Unit, Wakefield, to arrive, with paramedic Mikie Williams and Dr Chris Srinivasan rushing to the scene.
The pilot managed to skilfully land the helicopter close to the incident in a nearby field using the powerful searchlight attached under the helicopter.
Chantelle’s ordeal will be featured in the next episode of Helicopter ER on Friday, November 3, 2023 at 9pm. You can watch the series on Quest, Freeview (channel 12), Sky (channel 144), Virgin (channel 138) and on demand via Discovery Plus.
When the YAA arrived, the critical care team joined the rescue efforts alongside local paramedics and fire and rescue services, where the gravity of Chantelle’s situation became apparent. She was trapped in her car, pinned at her legs, and had started to experience convulsions.
Dr Srinivasan said: “Treating a patient at nighttime and in low visibility conditions presents unique challenges, as our ability to assess and monitor the patient is hindered.
“This becomes especially demanding in large-scale incidents such as this. Time was of the essence, as I was particularly worried that Chantelle might experience another seizure, risking her airway while stuck in the vehicle.”
Chantelle was trapped in the car for more than 40 minutes, with paramedics growing increasingly worried about temperatures dropping. A powerful painkiller, Morphine, was administered to ease her pain during the extraction process.
Following the challenging extraction, Chantelle’s condition remained critical; she was semi-conscious and in distress. She had to be transported to Sheffield Northern General Hospital in order to address the risks of her deteriorating condition during transportation.
Dr Srinivasan explained that it was vitally important to be able to perform necessary medical procedures in a road ambulance if necessary.
“My concern was on the way to the hospital; she might have a seizure or worsening of a brain injury,” he said.
“It would be at that point I would have to perform an RSI (procedure to put a patient in a medical coma), but due to the technical nature of the procedure you can't do that while flying, whereas you can easily stop a land ambulance and perform it at the side of the road.”
Chantelle spent three weeks in the hospital where she began a painful and slow recovery and she continues to experience side effects, including severe fatigue and cognitive difficulties, associated with her brain injuries.
Medical assessments confirmed that she had suffered a fractured skull, facial palsy (weakness of the facial muscles, resulting from damage to the facial nerve), a broken jaw, multiple rib fractures, injuries to both shoulders, two neck fractures, and four spinal fractures. She has also sustained punctures in both lungs.
“I can hardly recall the accident. All I know is that I was heading home to my son, and that's where my memory fades,” she said.
“The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital, confused by the extent of my injuries. I had suffered so many physical injuries, but for me the real concern was the damage to my brain.
“Since the accident, I've made significant progress, but I still notice how easily I tire, and how quickly I forget things. On long days, my speech can stumble, and words slip from my mind.
“Through it all, my son has been my rock, a comforting presence who always wants to be by my side, even if he doesn't fully grasp the situation. He's the one who has kept me going throughout my recovery.
“Reflecting on how far I've come and what I've overcome, I could never have imagined I'd survive this ordeal. I want to express my deepest gratitude to YAA; they saved my life, and I truly believe I wouldn't be here without them. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.”