On Anzac Day 2015, the CareFlight crew flew to save the life of a young mother, Laurel, who had been in a horrific car crash. Without CareFlight, she would not be here today.
Laurel doesn’t remember the accident or its immediate aftermath. All she remembers is waving goodbye to her daughter as she left to drive to her friend’s house.
The next thing she recalls is waking up the following morning at 2.00am in an intensive care unit.
Laurel had been involved in a head-on collision.
Bus driver Allan Cummings came upon the terrible scene within seconds of the impact. Allan recalls he ran to Laurel’s car and found her completely trapped. She was screaming in agony.
He knew instantly there was no way to free her by himself. He climbed into the passenger side to be next to her and comforted her as best he could, saying help was on its way.
CareFlight landed just metres from the crash within minutes of the call.
The crew sprang into action amid a chaotic scene – a cacophony of sirens, emergency vehicles and people. Laurel’s car was in the middle of the road. The entire front had been crushed.
Her injuries were difficult to assess as she was trapped underneath the dashboard. Our doctor inserted an intravenous line to administer sedatives, pain relievers and antibiotics. Then the slow process of extricating Laurel from the car began.
The CareFlight crew helped emergency services release her. It was important to do this as quickly as possible as entrapment can disguise the full extent of a patient’s injuries. Yet the very act of relieving the pressure can unleash a new set of life-threatening problems – including bleeding, which can deprive the brain of oxygen.
Laurel was in terrible distress, but the medication helped to calm her.
After 45 minutes she was free and the medical crew went to work as her vital signs could have deteriorated at any moment. A super-tight pelvic binder was used to prevent further harm from a badly fractured pelvis.
The best way to get Laurel to a major hospital was by road ambulance. Our doctor accompanied her in the ambulance, monitoring her until they reached the hospital where he handed her over to a trauma team.