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Derbyshire walker airlifted by local air ambulance recalls experience ahead of charity’s 40,000th mission milestone

A retiree from Litton near Buxton is sharing her experience of being airlifted, after breaking her hip when she collapsed while out walking, to raise awareness of the local air ambulance – which will be flying its 40,000th mission on 24th June.

When Sue Clark set off from her home in the Peak District village to take the dog for a walk it was a pleasant February day.

After about a mile and a half Sue (71) – who has Parkinson’s disease – suddenly felt dizzy and fell over. She tried to stand up but was in excruciating pain and couldn’t manage to get to her feet.

By now the temperature had dropped and it was sleeting. Luckily for Sue, a couple were also out walking in the countryside and came to her rescue.

“They helped get me to my feet but I couldn’t stand on my own. The young man rang 999 and held me up for over an hour while we waited for help,” she explains.

Sue phoned her husband John and he got in the car and drove to where she was.

Responders from the ambulance service arrived at Sue’s side but it was obvious that she needed both urgent treatment for her injuries and then to get to hospital quickly. That’s when they contacted their ambulance control and requested the assistance of the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland air ambulance to provide additional help.

Within 18 minutes of receiving a call, the helicopter landed in a field next to where Sue had fallen.

By now she was “in terrible pain” and very cold. The air ambulance critical care doctor and paramedic administered analgesic pain relief and made Sue comfortable for the short flight to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.

The flight took just 9 minutes compared with a bumpy 35-40 minutes by the rural roads from the scene.

“If it had not been for the air ambulance Sue could have been in serious trouble. It was a remote location and the weather was awful. Sue had broken her hip and was suffering with the onset of hypothermia. She needed medical attention urgently,” says John, who drove to Sheffield to join his wife after the helicopter took off.

On arrival at the hospital, the air ambulance crew completed a handover to a trauma team that was waiting for her in the A&E department and Sue was taken for urgent x rays to assess the extent of her injuries.

The next day she underwent an emergency hip replacement operation and after three days was well enough to be transferred to Chesterfield Royal Hospital for post-operative care closer to home.

Two weeks after the accident Sue returned home and is now recovering well.

“When you live in a very rural community like we do you don’t realise how important the air ambulance is until something happens and you need it,” says Sue.

“It is an essential service for those of us who live in isolated places and I am so grateful that the helicopter was there when I needed help. The air ambulance is a wonderful free service and it relies on donations to keep operating,” she adds.

As a way of thanking “the wonderful crew” for getting her to hospital so quickly, Sue and John are hoping to organise a fundraising event later this year at The Crispin Inn at Great Longstone.

Plans are already underway and as soon as life returns to normal after Government lockdown and social distancing rules are lifted, a date will be fixed and arrangements made.

Missions like Sues’ wouldn’t be possible without public support. The 24/7 lifesaving service reaches its 40,000th mission milestone on the 24th June and relies on generous donations to make these missions happen – to find out more, please click here