Air ambulance doctor's life saved by hero colleagues

Dr Patricia Mills in the East Anglian Air Ambulance

Dr Patricia Mills was hit by a van last year, and her life was saved by her air ambulance colleagues - Credit: EAAA

An air ambulance doctor has spoken about how her hero colleagues saved her life following a critical accident.

East Anglian Air Ambulance doctor Patricia Mills never expected to leave a meeting with her colleagues and require their life-saving care just 40 minutes later – but after being hit by a van while walking with her dog Ralph, it was her turn to be the patient.

Dr Mills, from Newmarket, was unconscious shortly after the accident on February 5 last year – but when she woke up, she knew the severity of the situation. The accident had left her chest wall "in pieces".

She self-assessed herself at the scene and told the driver to tell the 999 call handlers the incident was "major trauma positive", knowing an air ambulance would be called.

Her colleagues soon arrived, with the Anglia Two crew of Liam Sagi, Dr Chris Chadwick and pilots Paul Smith and Jonny Bushell there to lend a helping hand – who had joked that Dr Mills lived nearby and would likely have come to their aid.

Dr Mills, 52, said: "I knew what the risks were if I didn’t get the right help quickly. I was in a lot of pain and really starting to shiver, so I knew I was starting to go into shock and the fear of the situation was really setting in.

"When I heard those rotor blades above me, I was filled with an immediate sense of relief.

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"To hear my colleague Liam's voice made me feel like I was going to be okay. It was the oddest thing for all of us, we joked about it – but that's the nature of the work we do. I remember telling him off for not giving me enough painkilling drugs."

The accident had broken all of her ribs on her left side and several on the right. She also suffered a potentially life-threatening flail segment, a broken sternum, two broken vertebrae in her lower back and some internal bleeding.

Her Labrador Ralph, now five, had also suffered serious nerve damage to his legs and was taken to the vets by passers-by.

Dr Mills in intensive care in hospital

Dr Mills spent 10 days in intensive care and witnessed first-hand the work of her colleagues - Credit: EAAA

She spent 10 days in intensive care, having made it to Addenbrooke's Hospital after just 13 minutes. Titanium plates were fitted to help fuse her ribs back together.

Within 12 weeks, Dr Mills was back at work at West Suffolk Hospital, and returned to the skies with her air ambulance colleagues in June. Both her and Ralph made incredible recoveries.

She said: "Ralph is just the sweetest dog. He's almost fully recovered now but has a bit of a limp when he walks.

"He refuses to walk that way now and will sit down with his tail between his legs – he always runs into the kitchen to hide if he hears a helicopter."

Dr Mills at home with Ralph, who has also made a great recovery following the accident

Dr Mills at home with Ralph, who has also made a great recovery following the accident - Credit: EAAA

Dr Mills, who is also in charge of co-ordinating critical care beds across East Anglian hospitals, added the work of her colleagues throughout the pandemic has been inspiring, with pilots and doctors helping to transfer patients between different intensive care units.

She added: "It is so cheesy, but to have been on the other side and experienced all of the amazing care these people give to their patients, it is remarkable."

Those who would like to donate to the East Anglian Air Ambulance can do so here.

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