When Summer popped to the local shop on her own for the first time, her mum, Kimberley, and grandma waited patiently for her to return.
Kimberley’s phone started ringing – it was Summer. When she answered, an unknown voice on the other end of the phone talked back. Every parent’s worst nightmare began to unravel.
Summer, 11, had stepped out to cross the road and was hit by an oncoming car. She was sent flying through the air and was left unconscious in the road with a catalogue of serious injuries.
“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even cry,” said Kimberley, who lives with Summer in Basingstoke, “not until I got to the road and saw her lying there on the ground surrounded by police, paramedics and the air ambulance team trying to save her life.”
Due to severity of Summer’s injuries, we were tasked by our duty dispatcher to give her the best chance of survival before reaching hospital.
The team stabilised Summer and loaded her into the back of an ambulance and travelled with her to hospital, allowing them to continue providing advanced care en route.
A Paramedic’s Perspective
Specialist Paramedic Lead Tom Nickisson-Richards was one of the duty paramedics who responded to the call to attend Summer. He looks back on that day.
“I remember the day we attended Summer very well. My colleague and I had spent a busy day on the emergency response vehicle, and we were on our way back to base. Fortunately, we were very close to the scene of Summer’s incident when we were dispatched, and we began the 10-minute journey to the scene.
“We knew that a young patient had been hit by a car at speed, and that she was unconscious. There was certainly a feeling of concern around what we might find when arriving, but we focused on maintaining safe progress through rush hour traffic.
“On arrival, several ambulance service staff were already there, along with numerous members of the public and some of Summer’s family. It was very obvious that Summer was extremely unwell.
“We received a handover from the paramedics on scene, who had done a superb job in the initial stages of major trauma care. Summer had been witnessed to fly through the air after the impact and had been deeply unconscious since then.
“Summer had some issues relating to her airway and, recognising that she needed urgent treatment at a major trauma centre, we moved her into the back of the ambulance as expediently as we could, whilst delivering the early interventions and medications she needed to mitigate the impact of her injuries.
“Along with the ambulance crew, we left scene and began the journey by road to University Hospital Southampton. We arranged a rendezvous with one of our consultant colleagues to assist in her treatment. Halfway to Southampton, we stopped to collect our colleague who joined us in the back of the ambulance.
“At this point, Summer had begun to display seizure activity, and she required an emergency pre-hospital anaesthetic as a matter of urgency. We train regularly in the delivery of this intervention, but for our patient to be so young is certainly not a routine circumstance for the team.
“The anaesthetic went smoothly, in part thanks to the tools we use, such as checklists and pocketbooks, to help maximise our bandwidth in these high-pressure situations. With the anaesthetic complete, we were able to proceed to Southampton where we handed Summer over to the team who were waiting in Resuscitation.”
Summer stayed in hospital for three-to-four months learning how to walk, talk, eat and swallow all over again.
“But Summer survived,” said Kimberley. “She’s my miracle child.”
She added: “If the air ambulance wasn’t there to provide the help that Summer needed, I wouldn’t have my little girl today. I will always be indebted to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance for bringing my baby back to me.
“Four years on and she’s just remarkable. She’s getting amazing grades at school and has become a fantastic artist.
“Her little sister is beyond happy to still have her older sister here.”
Tom said: “I was fortunate enough to meet Summer some months later. It was wonderful to see how well she was doing, and I hope she has continued to do well after such a traumatic event.”