Why we fly

Cassandra’s Story

Cassandra Jameson enjoys an active lifestyle with her teenage son Luke and partner Matt, but things could be very different now if Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance hadn’t flown her to hospital when she fell off a horse in a remote location.

Cassandra Jameson, Nottinghamshire

Due to the serious spinal injuries she suffered in the accident, it was vital Cassandra had the smoothest and quickest transfer to be treated at the Royal Derby Hospital.

“I am eternally grateful that I was flown in the helicopter as by land ambulance it would probably have been a very different outcome. Thanks to the air ambulance I am able to walk again and I’m not in a wheelchair,” she says.

It was August Bank Holiday 2009 when Cassandra – an experienced rider – was having a show jumping lesson at a riding school in Sherwood Forest.

She was attempting a combination fence of three jumps in a row when her horse refused to go over the second one and Cassandra fell off.

“The horse went one way and I went another. I leant forward to get my feet out of the stirrups and landed in a sitting position on the ground. I was very badly winded but not in pain. I had feeling in my legs but not around my torso, which was worrying,” she says.

The impact of the fall badly compressed Cassandra’s spine and she sustained a fracture to her L1 vertebrae in the middle of her back and damage to three vertebrae in her neck.

Due to the seriousness of the spinal injuries and the remote location of the accident, the air ambulance attended.

Cassandra was made comfortable and placed on a stretcher to keep her stable during the nine minutes flight to hospital. Her partner Matt followed by car, a journey which took him 30 minutes, and they were reunited in the Accident & Emergency Department.

After being assessed by doctors, Cassandra underwent a six hour emergency operation to repair her spine with a vertebral body stent and kyphoplasty. Amazingly she was up and walking later that day and discharged from hospital after a week.

“We didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk again until after the operation so it was a great relief when I did. It could have been a very different story,” she says.

It was six months before Cassandra was well enough to return to work and she had to undergo a gruelling regime of physiotherapy to get to that point. During her recovery, she did some fundraising for various charities, including DLRAA, whilst flat on her back. For this dedication, she was presented with an award by the local radio station where she lives in Lincolnshire.

She didn’t leave it too long before getting back on a horse and still rides occasionally.

Despite getting back and neck pain and not being able to stand for long periods, Cassandra now leads an active life enjoying travelling, walking and baking.

“The track to the riding school was so long and bumpy there is no way a land ambulance would be able to get me down there without causing more damage to my spine. I am hugely grateful that the air ambulance was there for me when I needed it – my life could be so different now if it wasn’t,” she says.