Experienced skydiver who learnt to walk again after life-threatening accident praises air ambulance
Adrenaline junkie Megan Reeves had completed over 300 skydives when she had what she describes as a “freak accident” after jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet.
“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I went from being absolutely terrified to accepting that I was going to die, but thankfully I survived,” she says.
Megan (24) sustained multiple injuries and now has metal plates holding together her pelvis, spine, and right leg.
She believes that if it was not for Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance attending the accident at Hinton Airfield near Brackley and flying her to University Hospital, Coventry in just 13 minutes she would not have made such a good recovery.
“I don’t think I would be doing the things I am today if it wasn’t for the air ambulance coming to me and flying me so quickly to the right hospital for my injuries,” she says.
As a qualified Accelerated Free Fall licence holder, Megan was doing her first-ever wingsuit jump. A wingsuit has fabric between the legs and arms to add surface area to the human body to create a significant increase in lift.
It takes about a minute from exiting the aircraft to opening the parachute, and a further three to five minutes under canopy. Megan had to deal with a life-threatening scenario when there were problems when the parachute did not open properly.
“I was unstable when I deployed my first parachute, the force of it opening yanked me upwards causing my spine to be pulled off my pelvis. This resulted in me not being able to use my arms properly, so I could not grab onto anything. I was spiralling down at 60mph and as the first chute didn’t open properly, I needed to activate my reserve. Due to the lack of use of my arms I was unable to get my reserve parachute out until about 1,000ft above the ground by putting my whole arm through the handle and using my body weight to force it open. I hit the ground at around 50 mph, I was conscious and remembered being confused that I was alive.”
Staff in the airfield’s watch tower raised the alarm and within 21 minutes of making a 999 call, the local air ambulance landed at the scene.
A land ambulance was already in attendance when the helicopter arrived.
The air ambulance critical care crew were concerned that Megan could be bleeding internally so she was put into a pelvic binder to help limit the potential blood loss.
She was given drugs to stabilise blood clotting and for pain relief, wrapped in a blizzard blanket, and put onto a scoop for the flight to Coventry.
Megan spent several weeks in hospital recovering from surgery to repair her shattered pelvis, fractured lower spine and broken ribs, right tibia, and fibula.
She underwent hydro and physiotherapy – which she is still doing today – and had to learn to walk again.
Amazingly, just over a year after the accident – which happened in February 2019 – she did a tandem skydive with a friend.
“Skydiving is an extreme sport but there is very little risk really because of all the safety procedures put in place. However, when things do go wrong, they can be very high risk. I had a freak accident. Before it happened, I was committed to skydiving and did up to eight in a day, but now I’m a little more relaxed and just do it when I feel like it,” she says.
Megan, from Tamworth, was aware of the local air ambulance before she needed their help.
“I could not be more thankful for the service provided by this charity, and I believe I would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the speed and hard work of the air ambulance crew,” she says.