Why we fly
The interventions by the ambulance and critical care crews were crucial to Seb’s outcome as they helped stabilise his condition. If the air ambulance crew hadn’t been there who knows what might have happened. He could have died.
Working for the local air ambulance charity, Claire Duncombe is very proud of the difference it makes to the outcome of people needing critical care at the scene of accidents, but when her 5-year-old son suffered a life-threatening asthma attack she got first-hand experience of the lifesaving service.
Sebastian nearly died when he passed out after a prolonged period of wheezing and breathing difficulties at home in Earl Shilton.
“His lips started to turn blue, and I called 999 for the first time in my life. It was very frightening. My husband Sam performed CPR on Seb until the land ambulance arrived,” she says.
Paramedics from East Midlands Ambulance Service took over treating him and Seb was eventually put into the back of the ambulance ready to be blue-lighted to hospital.
When the critical care crew from Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance arrived at the scene in the Critical Care Car, the crew gave Seb some critical drugs to help manage the effects that the asthma was having on him.
“The interventions by the ambulance and critical care crews were crucial to Seb’s outcome as it helped stabilised his condition. If the air ambulance crew hadn’t been there who knows what might have happened. He could have died,” says Claire.
The air ambulance crew accompanied Seb and Claire in the land ambulance to Leicester Royal Infirmary. On arrival, the doctor went into the Accident & Emergency Department with Seb and debriefed hospital staff about his condition.
Because of lockdown restrictions – the incident happened in December 2020 – Sam could not join his wife and son at the hospital, and he had a worrying wait at home to find out what was happening.
Amazingly, within two hours of arriving at the hospital Seb sat up in bed, said he was hungry and asked his mum for his favourite toys.
“It was such a huge relief. The situation had changed so quickly from being critical to life threatening to being OK and us laughing about what Seb had said,” says Claire.
She stayed by his bedside for five days until he was discharged from hospital. She says:
“It wasn’t until I reflected back on what had happened that I realised how close we were to losing Seb and that his life had been saved. I know how lucky we are, and that the situation could have been very different and absolutely devasting for us.”
Seb had only recently been diagnosed with asthma when the incident happened. He had been in hospital a few times with what was described as a “viral wheeze” and was on medication and used an inhaler.
It is still not known what caused the life-threatening attack but, thankfully, since it happened his asthma is being well managed.
“He is a normal five-year-old- boy who is really happy. He loves toys, playing with his friends and is very affectionate. We try not to think about what happened, but we do know how lucky we are. Having been on the receiving end of what the local air ambulance does makes me even more proud to work for such a life changing, lifesaving charity,” says Claire.
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