A junior doctor who was close to death after being trapped under her van is set to make a full recovery thanks to the interventions of the region’s air ambulance.
Elle Stott, 27, from Liverpool, had been enjoying a bank holiday weekend in the Lake District with her friends and had just said goodbye to them, after planning to stay one more night before returning home.
She parked her campervan in a layby at Whinlatter Pass and went to retrieve something from the back, but as soon as she closed the doors it started to roll away.
Ms Stott said: “I ran after it thinking I’ll jump in the passenger side of the door and pull the handbrake up.
“It must have hit a rock because it jarred and then fell back down from a height and landed on me, crushing me from my chest down between the tarmac and the side of the passenger door.”
Ms Stott believes she was on her own for ten minutes before a passerby spotted her. A crowd of people then came to help and she was told there were 12 calls to the emergency services about her incident.
Firefighters arrived and placed airbags underneath the van and cut out the windscreen before the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) arrived on scene and assessed and treated Ms Stott.
Dr John Ferris from GNAAS said: “When we arrived Elle was pinned under a campervan with the whole weight of the van on her chest and neck. She was blue and gasping and had unrecordable oxygen levels. It was proving very tricky to remove the van off her due to the very steep piece of road we were on and the need not to crush her even more as we lifted the van off her.
“She was so near death that I gave her a dose of anaesthetic drugs while she was still trapped and inserted an airway to help ventilate her. When she was released she was almost in cardiac arrest briefly before we operated on her chest and gave her a blood transfusion. Luckily with the treatment on scene we were able to stabilise her and fly her to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. You can’t come closer to death than Elle did that day.”
Ms Stott had punctured both her lungs, broken ribs, a shattered pelvis, and a lot of lower limb lacerations which required stitches. Part of her bowel had died from lack of blood flow, so half of her intestine was taken out and she was given a temporary stoma which will be reversed in six months’ time.
She said: “I was in hospital for a month and was discharged on my 27th birthday. It was the best birthday present ever at that moment.”
She moved in with her parents while recovering and had to use a wheelchair for two months before being able to walk again.
Ms Stott was only a month in as a foundation year 1 doctor when the incident happened on 31 August 2020, but she credits her medical knowledge for helping her come to terms with the injuries she sustained and the necessary treatment for them.
She said: “I was in awe of everyone who helped me and how caring everyone was. Even the people who found me must have been traumatised, but they worked together to help a stranger. I might not ever meet those people again but I was so grateful.
“I don’t want to think what would have happened if GNAAS weren’t there in the Lake District. They got me to a big trauma centre in such a short time which was just amazing and made all the difference and they proved that even being somewhere so remote, there’s still hope of getting advanced care. I received blood at the side of the road and without that I don’t know what would have happened. I am absolutely in awe of GNAAS, they’re just completely inspiring, and hopefully I’ll be part of a team like that in the future.”
Following Ms Stott’s incident her friends have set themselves a challenge on Easter Sunday, aptly named ‘Easter Runday’. Approximately 20 people are separately running a half marathon or 10k in various places across the country, and they’ve already raised more than £1,200 for GNAAS.
GNAAS are appealing for donations to secure the future of their helicopters. Please visit gna.as/fleetappeal or call 01768 899 150 to support the charity, which operates from Langwathby, near Penrith.