I was saved by airborne doctors

When nurse Suzanne Martin was involved in a head-on car crash, her injuries were so serious that doctors did not think she would survive.

But just months later, the mother-of-one has made a remarkable recovery and is certain she would not be alive today if it had not been for the care she received from a Magpas doctor and paramedic at the scene of the crash.

Now she is trying to raise awareness about the work of the charity, as it launches an appeal to raise the �1m it needs to secure its future.

The 35-year-old, who lives in Swaffham with her husband Paul and seven-year-old son Sam, was involved in a head-on collision on June 30 on the A1065 near Castle Acre. She broke both legs, an arm, ribs, her collarbone and toes, punctured both lungs and had a damaged spleen and liver.

But Dr Alex Schueler and critical care paramedic Dan Cody, of Magpas, were flown to the accident by the East Anglian air ambulance, and were able to anaesthetise Mrs Martin at the scene and insert two chest drains.

It took 45 minutes for emergency workers to get her out of her car and in a stable enough state to be flown to Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge.

Amazingly, she left hospital just seven weeks later and is now recovering so well that she is hoping to return to work as a community nurse in Swaffham in the New Year.

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Mrs Martin, who lives in Heathlands and does not remember anything about the accident, said: 'Without the care I was given that day, I believe that it could have been a very different story and somehow simply saying 'thank you' does not seem enough. I'm so grateful they were there.

'Obviously the speed of the air ambulance helps, but having that level of care, when time is of the essence, makes all the difference.

'I owe the Magpas doctor my life. Had he not been there, I don't think I would have been here today.

'Both at the scene and at A&E, they did not think I would survive, which is why the police rushed Paul to Addenbrooke's on blue lights as they thought I was going to die.'

Mr Martin, 41, who is also a nurse and works in Bury St Edmunds, immediately understood just how seriously injured his wife was, having a background in intensive care nursing.

But just seven weeks later, on August 17, Mrs Martin went home.

She said: 'I was never so pleased to see an ambulance crew as I was then. Sam had made a 'welcome home' banner and Paul was quite emotional upon my return.

'It's been a long road with good days and bad along the way, but I finally feel that I'm almost there, and hope to be back to work early in the New Year.'

She added: 'I think it's made me understand the patients better, as I have never been a patient before.'

In November, friends, family and members of Everybody Health and Fitness club in Swaffham took part in a sponsored cycle challenge to raise money for the East Anglian air ambulance and Magpas.

Mrs Martin said: 'I know how expensive those services are and, without money being donated to both charities, they wouldn't be running.'

She added that they felt while many people knew about the work of the air ambulance, she wanted to help raise awareness of Magpas and its role in providing highly-experienced clinicians at the scene of accidents.

Magpas Helimedix has launched its one in a million campaign and is appealing for people in Norfolk to help them reach their �1m fundraising target.

The charity, which was started nearly 40 years ago as the Mid Anglia General Practitioner Accident Service, is based at RAF Wyton, in Cambridgeshire, and its team of mainly volunteer doctors and critical care paramedics provide essential critical emergency care across the East of England, travelling by helicopter or by rapid response land vehicles.

Magpas has the only emergency medics able to fly at night, thanks to its use of a police helicopter, but it needs to raise money to pay the police for the flights it uses to get highly-skilled doctors to the scenes of accidents as quickly as possible.

Chief operating officer Daryl Brown said: 'It's actually quite rare for Magpas to take patients by air to hospital – what we do is get higly-skilled doctors to the scene of the accident to provide A&E level care by the side of the road.

'We are the only third sector provider which is registered with the Care Quality Commission so we can anaesthetise patients at the scene of the accident and operate at the scene.'

Mr Brown said Magpas has 52 doctors and paramedics, 35 of which were volunteers, giving their time for free.

He said: 'Were we to pay it would cost �3.6m a year to run Magpas. Fortunately with volunteers we can manage to provide all our services for around �500,000 a year.'

Magpas attended to more than 2,500 patients in 2009, around 10pc of which are jobs in the Norfolk and Suffolk area and those tend to be the ones that happen after dark, which can be as early at 4pm at this time of year.

More information about the charity is available by calling the charity on 01480 371 060 or visiting the website at www.magpas.org.uk. Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/magpas.