Why we fly

Jess & Keith’s Story

Jess and Keith Wheatley have supported the air ambulance for many years, never thinking that one day they would need us.

Jess and Keith Wheatley, Rutland

One winter’s day in 2013, Jess and Keith’s car collided with a HGV. It was a huge smash and we attended with both our helicopters to work with the two East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) emergency ambulances, two BASICS doctors from the local schemes, and the fire service that were also on the scene.

Both Jess and Keith were trapped in their car and had very serious injuries.

Jess suffered 12 broken ribs and a broken hip, while Keith had been even more severely injured – he had a broken arm/collarbone, broken ribs, pelvis, a punctured lung, ruptured spleen, fractured sternum and vertebrae, a bruised heart and a blood clot on his brain. Everyone worked together to cut them out as quickly as possible, without further impacting their injuries. At any age, injuries like these can be seriously life-threatening, but Jess and Keith were particularly vulnerable.

We flew Keith first, as he was clinically the most seriously injured. Although he was lucid, he was very confused. We gave them both drugs for the pain, oxygen to help them breathe, and then completely immobilized them using a collar, head blocks and straps secured to a stretcher – again to ensure they did not get further injured in transport. We then alerted the hospital of their conditions and our ETA.

Our helicopters followed each other. Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance dropped Keith and the team off first, then flew off the helipad without hesitation to allow Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance to land and get Jess into the hospital too.

It took the helicopters just 17 minutes to fly from the scene to the intensive care wards 50 miles away, which by road would have taken over an hour.

“The news was devastating when we learned about the crash and that they had BOTH been airlifted to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire. But now they’re back home – smiling, sharing family jokes and Mum telling Dad what to do, like normal! I can’t really find the words to tell you how grateful we are that the Air Ambulance team were there for us.  Things could have been quite different without their help.”
– Elaine, Jess and Keith’s daughter