On the morning of July 2018, Rebekah Jones was on her way to work when she was involved in a road traffic collision just outside Saintfield. Rebekah normally travelled to work with colleagues but on the day of the accident she was by herself in the car when she collided with a lorry. A member of the public travelling behind Rebekah stopped her car and called 999.
Rebekah remained conscious throughout and said, “I remember everything about the incident. I could see the collision was going to happen, so I slammed on my brakes. I made the decision to try and veer my car into the wall on the side of the road, impacting on the passenger side since there was no one travelling with me. I closed my eyes as the impact happened and I just had this intense feeling of being thrown back.
“Afterwards I was afraid to open my eyes, I thought I could be dead. Once I did I realised my car door wasn’t there, it has been crumpled back. I tried to get out of the car and that’s when the intense pain kicked in and I felt the blood around my legs. My training as a physio kicked in and my first thought was to wiggle my toes to make sure there was no spinal cord injuries. I could see that I had an open fractured femur, but I did not know the extent of my other injuries. I was so thankful to the woman who stopped and stayed with me until the ambulance and air ambulance arrived, all I could think was I didn’t want to die alone.”
When the air ambulance team arrived on the scene, the HEMS paramedic and HEMS doctor gave Rebekah pain relief, due to the intense pain she was in, and prepared her for transport to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where she remained for two weeks. Along with the open fracture on her leg, Rebekah also had spinal injuries, a fractured cheekbone, serious concussion and her kneecap had been shattered. The injuries to her kneecap were so extensive that it had to be removed.
Rebekah has since undergone intense physiotherapy, something she knew would be vitally important for her discharge from hospital and recovery. She said:
“When I was going into surgery the consultants in the Royal Victoria Hospital told me they didn’t know if they could save my kneecap and it could be a year before I was able to walk again and that I may not be able to play hockey or get back to work as a physio. That just made me more determined. Two days after my operation I asked to see the physio in the hospital so that I could get up and start moving around. I was off my crutches on Christmas Day and took part in a friendly hockey game the next day. I am really looking forward to getting back to work and getting on with my life and doing the things I really enjoy.”
Rebekah recently visited the air ambulance base, and the home of the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI) charity, in Lisburn to meet the team who had helped her, commenting, “I am so glad to be here today so that I can say thank you in person for all that you do. I still don’t know how someone was able to get me out of that car. I genuinely owe the HEMS team my life.”
Rebekah’s father and grandfather came with her to visit the base, her father Pastor Billy Jones had been involved in fundraising for Air Ambulance NI, before his daughter needed to avail of the service. He said, “I had a missed call from Rebekah as I had been walking the dogs, when I rang back, and a police constable answered her phone I knew that it was bad. When they told me the air ambulance had been tasked my immediate thought was it must be critical because I knew the service is only tasked to serious or traumatic incidents.”
“The medical team who looked after Rebekah, and the ones who spoke to us about her injuries, were the most amazing professionals. I had heard about the importance of ‘the golden hour’ but when it’s your daughter you realise how vital each minute of that hour is. We are just so thankful to Air Ambulance NI. The service feels like part of our family now.”