Norfolk Dogwalker was airlifted after allergic reaction to bee stings
Taking the dogs for a walk is as much a routine part of Catherine Edgington's daily life as going to work at her shop, Big Blue Sky, in Wells-next-the-Sea.
In fact, she would walk her own and her mother's dog every morning near her mother's home on the North Norfolk coast between Stiffkey and and Morston before heading into work. But one of those walks in September last year almost cost Catherine her life after she was stung several times by a swarm of bees, suffering a severe allergic reaction. Catherine, 44, who lives in Langham, says: 'I must have walked through the flight path of some angry bees who, we subsequently found out, would have been hungry and annoyed because a hive nearby had fallen over and they couldn't get into it. I could feel them in my hair and my clothes and knew that I had suffered several stings. I ran up to the house and told my mother I needed to lie down. I remember feeling very ill and apparently I then passed out in the kitchen. The next thing I can remember is waking up in intensive care in hospital.'
It was Catherine's mum Rosie who rang 999. She says: 'There was nothing I could do and the operator was telling me to keep calm. I felt as if I was on the phone for days, but suddenly I heard the wonderful sound of the helicopter landing nearby and its crew came rushing in, along with the paramedics who had come by road and who reached us at the same time.'
On board Anglia One was critical care paramedic Neil Flowers, who says: 'Catherine had suffered an anaphylactic reaction, which is the most severe form of allergic reaction.
'In a situation like this, time really is of the essence. I have been a paramedic for 11 years but I have only ever seen two other cases as serious as this. It's fortunate that Catherine was otherwise fit and healthy as that undoubtedly contributed to her survival.'
Working alongside Neil was Dr Chris Wright and also on board the helicopter was observer Nadine Keefe, a medical student training to work in the area of pre-hospital care who has spent time with the London air ambulance team as well as with Anglia One.
Nadine said the land ambulance crew worked closely with Chris and Neil as they started treating Catherine straight away before anaesthetising her for the flight to hospital.
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Meanwhile, as Rosie stayed out of the way to let the clinicians work, Anglia One's pilot Steve Norris ensured that she was not getting more distressed.
Rosie says: 'They were all brilliant, but the pilot was lovely in making sure that I too had someone to talk to. When they were ready to leave, with Catherine in the helicopter, I asked if she would be alright.
'Dr Wright told me 'it's extremely serious, but we are doing our best'. I was going to follow on to the hospital by car, which would take just under an hour.' The flight to hospital took 13 minutes and Catherine was taken to intensive care. Although she didn't need a long stay in hospital she required recovery at home and medication for a few days after her release. Rosie was already an existing supporter of the charity and had sent a donation just weeks before. Catherine is also planning to hold a fundraising event in the early summer. Catherine says: 'Thank goodness my mum was at home to call 999 in the first place, and also that the helicopter was available with such skilled people on board.'
Catherine is backing the EDP's appeal to raise money for new equipment for the air ambulance and will be competing in Norfolk's Superhero Challenge on Saturday, June 23, in Burnham Overy Staithe. The challenge, which she has helped to organise in previous years, involves swimming a mile, kayaking four miles, cycling 45 miles and running eight miles.
So far Catherine has raised �4,300, but is hoping to reach a target of �5,500, and to sponsor her log on to www.justgiving.com/catherine-edgington