“I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the crew”
It was a normal day on the farm last summer when Mandy Eaves fell eight feet onto concrete, suffering a potentially serious head injury.
Mandy was with her husband at their 15-acre farm in Lanivet, near Bodmin. They had been sorting hay for several hours that day, and Mandy was on top of the trailer throwing the bales off.
“I was throwing them off and my foot went down between two bales, which toppled me over”, she said.
“I went down headfirst onto concrete. I was fine but just didn’t want to get up.”
Husband James, who is an Emergency Care Assistant with the South Western Ambulance Service, was in the barn. He rushed to help and called 999.
He said: “I just went into work mode, when it first happened Mandy was more concerned of her arm, but I was worried about her head and cleaned that up. She was answering all my questions at the time, I knew the ambulance service was really busy. We noticed one of her eyes was dilated, and the other was tiny, that’s obviously a massive red flag of a head injury. We called for an ambulance and to see if the aircrew was available.”
Mandy on top of the hay trailer
With fears Mandy may have suffered a severe head injury, Cornwall Air Ambulance was tasked to the scene. Critical care paramedics Jeremy Griffiths and Paul Maskell arrived within minutes in the Rapid Response Vehicle.
Mandy was still awake but couldn’t speak, then she went unconscious. The crew carried out observations and checked her vital signs. Mandy was given pain relief, her arm was splinted and she was put onto a spine board. It was feared she could be suffering a traumatic brain injury. Paul and Jeremy also administered a hypertonic saline, a saltwater solution used to treat brain bleeds by absorbing any excess fluid. Mandy’s son, who had made it to the farm after hearing about what had happened, was told to expect the worst.
Mandy was conveyed to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, the region’s major trauma centre, by land ambulance and was taken straight into the resus area where she was placed in an induced coma. She had several scans which luckily didn’t show anything significant in terms of a head injury. She’d broken the top bone in her arm and had displaced her wrist, so had it plastered.
Back at home a few days later, Mandy started to show the signs of a stroke. She was rushed back to Derriford where she underwent an MRI scan, and it was found she had suffered a small bleed on the brain. Luckily it had stopped, and she didn’t need surgery. Husband James said: “The aircrew were really good, talking through what they were doing. It didn’t hit me until we were at hospital and waiting for news, I was pacing a lot, that was tough.”
Mandy in hospital
10 months on since the incident, Mandy’s recovery is going well and she has just started riding her horse again. James was worried she would be left with life-changing effects following her fall, and says the specialist hypertonic saline, which was given by the critical care paramedics, helped prevent any lasting damage.
Mandy said: “What they gave me is what has saved me. I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the crew. I could have died, but to end up with no lasting injuries is unbelievable. And that’s down to my treatment and what they did.
“It does make you feel safe, because you know they’re there if anything bad happens. I knew I was in good hands.”
Back at home Mandy has been trying not to do too much around the farm and says she won’t be helping out with the hay trailer any time again soon.
Her story features in the new series of Cornwall Air 999, which is on Quest every Friday at 9pm and is available as catch-up on discovery+.