Image: patients Tilly and Ellie with the emergency services colleagues who saved their lives back in March 2022.

Teenage survivors of serious road traffic collision reunite with those who came to their aid

Two teenage girls injured in a serious high speed road traffic collision on 23 March have been reunited with the teams who came to their aid.

College friends 19-year-old Tilly Raper from Richmond and 18-year-old Ellie Brion from Newton Aycliffe were looking for a park to enjoy the sunshine just after 5pm, when they were involved in a crash that left driver Ellie and back seat passenger Tilly trapped in the car with multiple injuries and in need of emergency services.

 Tilly and Ellie and their mums came together at Darlington ambulance station today to meet North East Ambulance Service paramedic Becca Bynoe her colleagues Chris Dundas-Twizell, Roger Anderson, Jordan Parker, as well as Steve Miles from Great North Air Ambulance Service. 

 Paramedic Becca Bynoe and clinical care assistant Chris Dundas-Twizell had just cleared from their last job at Darlington Memorial Hospital towards the end of their 12-hour shift when they were dispatched to the category 1 incident.

 Communications officer Jordan, who is part of our ambulance dispatch team, informed the crew that they were headed to a two-vehicle crash with multiple casualties.

Becca recalls, “I had in the back of my mind to prepare for the worst because the chances of fatalities could be high.  On the way to the job I was just thinking about what the scene could potentially be like, who was already going to be there first and what extra resources we could potentially need.”

 North East Ambulance Service received over 9,000 calls to road traffic incidents between April 2020 and March 2021.

 Chris adds, “Pulling up to the scene, the fire service and police were already there.  The roof of one of the vehicles was being removed and the other vehicle was about 50 yards further down the road embedded into a hedge. The driver of the second vehicle had escape with minor injuries and a third passenger of the first vehicle had also managed to escape with minor injuries and both were out of their vehicles.  Ellie, the driver of the first vehicle was trapped and Tilly was in the back.  A fire service colleague was sat in the back protecting them both whilst the roof was being removed.  Both looked serious but more so Tilly, just on first glance you knew.”

 Becca assessed the scene, adding, “I deemed Ellie to be non-time critical, but it was clear Tilly was very unwell.  I managed Tilly’s due to the seriousness of her injuries until HEMS arrived to assist.  I knew she needed treatment from them (RSI -induced coma).  Chris managed Ellie and helped to extricate her with the fire service, until another crew – Tanya O’Connor and Roger Anderson came to assist.”

 HEMS arrived soon after to help manage Tilly’s care and police secured the scene by blocking all the roads and re directing traffic.

 NEAS teams have called upon the Great North Air Ambulance 693 times over the last year -they are a vital part of the patient care provided in the North East.

 Both girls were transported on blue lights by road to major trauma hospital James Cook with support from the GNAAS team.

The accident left Ellie with concussion, severe bruising and whiplash.  She was in hospital overnight and at home recovering for two weeks afterwards, unable to get up.

 Tilly has no recollection of the incident.  She suffered a fractured pelvis, brain injury, lacerations to her spleen and contusions on her lungs and was in hospital for 90 days, only getting home on the 21st of June.

 Reflecting on the incident Tilly said, “I just feel really grateful.  I think I'm really aware that if they did a single thing differently, I might not have made it.  Meeting them is another part of piecing the puzzle together for me." 

On meeting the those involved, Ellie adds, “I am forever grateful for all the people that came to help, they acted fast and practically our lives -without them I don’t know where we would be! They did amazingly and in my eyes are heroes to us all.”

Dispatcher Jordan adds, “I’m a little overwhelmed to meet Ellie and Tilly as it’s not often a dispatcher gets to meet patients but to be able to be here and meet them and their families is amazing! It’s so nice to see they’ve made a good recovery and starting to get on with their lives. I am extremely proud to do the job I do every day I get to be part of a team that really makes a difference to people’s lives.”

Paramedic Steve Miles from GNAAS who attended with his colleague Mike said: “We often see patients on their worst day, so it was great to meet Tilly and her friends five months after the incident and see how well they’re doing. Tilly’s made fantastic progress and I wish all the best with her recovery.”

Becca, “It's actually a privilege to meet Tilly and Ellie because it could have so easily been a different outcome. We don't get to hear most of the time what the outcome is with patients we care for. You always wonder what happens - if they survive, if they are recovering well.  We all worked well as a team with the multiple resources we had there to provide a positive outcome. To put closure to the accident and see a positive outcome helps massively.  I'm just glad they're both out of hospital and I hope they aren't scared about getting behind the wheel again one day.”

Chris, “Looking back on that day, I am just so glad everyone survived, two cars, a known high speed dangerous road and three people suffered minor injuries with only Tilly having a lengthy stay in hospital. It could have been so much worse. Life is too short.”

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is a charitably funded air ambulance service which provides life-saving care throughout the North East, North Yorkshire, and Cumbria. They do not receive Government funding and must therefore raise £6.7m a year through public donations to remain operational.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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