Matthew Oates and Larry the horse with (left to right) 999 Call Handler Michelle Manson, Paramedic Carol Anne Wilkinson and Emergency Care Assistant Daniel Stephens

"Thank you for coming to the rescue"

Emotional reunion for man kicked in the face by his horse

A man who underwent hours of facial surgery after being kicked in the face by his horse has been reunited with the ambulance staff who came to his aid.

Matthew Oates, aged 20, was leading his girlfriend Beth’s horse, Larry, round the grounds at Spring House Farm in Darlington in September last year when Larry suddenly bucked, kicking Matthew in the face and knocking him to the ground.

Matthew’s friends called 999 straight away and explained what had happened to experienced North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) call handler Michelle Manson, who arranged immediate help.

Paramedic Carol Anne Wilkinson and Emergency Care Assistant Daniel Stephens were at the farm within minutes and transported Matthew to University Hospital North Tees for further examination. He was then blue lighted to the Maxillofacial Surgery team at James Cook University Hospital, where he underwent several hours of facial surgery to repair damage to his chin, jaw and eye socket.

Having now made a full recovery, Matthew, who has just been accepted on the student paramedic degree course at Teesside University, was keen to meet the crew and call handler who came to his aid and thank them.

He said: “I can remember the horse getting in front of me and then just being on my hands and knees and being covered in blood.

“Everything was broken – my chin was split in half, both jaw joints were in bits and the palette cracked through the middle. My eye sockets were pushed in and I had a metal plate on my teeth.

“It’s taken some time but I’m now back to normal and just so thankful to be here.

“I can’t thank these guys enough. It was great to be able to meet them again and thank them in person. I’m now really looking forward to starting my course and hopefully being able to call them my colleagues.”

Carol Anne, who joined NEAS 12 years ago and qualified as a paramedic eight years ago, said: “Poor Matthew was covered in blood when we arrived so it was hard for us to be able to see the extent of his injuries properly. After spending some time on the field with him, we got him into the ambulance to clean him up and properly assess and treat him. We cannulated him and gave him intravenous morphine to ease his pain and got him straight to hospital.”

Daniel, who joined NEAS six years ago, added: “More than anything reassurance was key for Matthew, he kept asking if he was going to die and kept hold of Carol’s hand throughout the journey. It’s great to be able to see the recovery he’s made and to see him looking so well.”

For call handler Michelle, who has been answering the region’s 999 calls for just over two years at NEAS and is now helping to train new call handlers, meeting Matthew was particularly special.

Michelle said: “An incident like Matthew’s really sticks in your mind because it’s so unusual. It’s really nice to be able to find out what happened after I put the phone down.

“As call handlers we see snippets of the worst moment of a person’s life but as soon as we put the phone down, that’s where our involvement ends; we pass the incident to the crew then they do their job and their involvement ends. We don’t usually get to find out what happened to them and if they’re ok.

“It was really lovely to meet Matthew and Beth and to see how well he’s doing.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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