The accident happened on a sunny Monday morning, a few months before Ryan Lockard’s 20th birthday.

Being such a nice day, he’d decided to go for a drive. But while driving he had a sudden seizure. The car careered across the median strip and hit another vehicle. From that moment, his life was in the balance.

At the CareFlight rapid response helicopter base, the team had just completed the morning’s routine checks and briefings. It’s the same routine at the start of every shift to make sure they can take off as quickly as possible.

The call came in at 7.37am. The crew were airborne in five minutes and arrived on the scene within nine minutes of the call. Ryan was still trapped in the car. Ambulance officers were there but Ryan was highly agitated and moving so much the paramedics couldn’t insert a drip to administer drugs to calm him and get him out. He was bleeding badly from a deep wound over his left eye, causing his blood pressure to drop dramatically.

Ryan needed a doctor and intensive care unit level of intervention – fast.

Dr Adam Sroor, an experienced emergency rescue doctor with CareFlight, says that as soon as they landed everyone on the team knew precisely what to do.

“We know that taking hospital-level care to patients as soon as possible after they are injured makes a big difference to their recovery prospects – and even their chance of survival.

“Ryan’s case was extremely serious. As soon as I saw how low his blood pressure was, I knew I had to give him a blood transfusion on the spot. I was also concerned that his chaotic movements were increasing the risk of further spinal injury.”

Dr Sroor put Ryan in an induced coma to prevent him from hurting himself and to protect his airways from any blood entering his lungs. The CareFlight team could then safely fly Ryan to hospital.

At the hospital, further tests showed Ryan had avoided spinal injuries but had a range of serious arm and lower leg fractures, as well as various other fractures to the face, feet and ribs. Ryan is now well on the road to recovery.

A few months on, he explains how lucky he feels; he can walk, he’s suffered no brain damage and the sight in his left eye is perfect, with a nicely healing scar. “The physician at the hospital said it was likely the CareFlight doctor had saved my eye from permanent damage,” Ryan said.

“Without a doubt, things would be very different without CareFlight’s specialist care. “Because I received intensive emergency care on the scene, I’ve had the best possible outcome. It’s taken a few months, but I’m able to walk again and I can use my arm.”

Ryan has since had the opportunity to meet the CareFlight crew and thank them in person.

“Meeting the CareFlight team at their base was an amazing experience. I got to shake hands with everyone, from the pilot and co-pilot who mapped out the fastest route to my accident, to the doctors who knew exactly what I needed to save my life.”

Specialist care makes the difference

Without a doubt, Ryan’s outcome would have been very different without CareFlight’s service. It would have been difficult to transport him to hospital in an ambulance. His blood pressure was dangerously low and ambulances don’t routinely carry blood.

At the hospital, further tests showed a range of serious arm and lower leg fractures. Thanks to our specialist care, however, he is now well on the road to recovery with no long-term injury or disability.