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Air ambulance thanked after terrifying fall from horse

Posted onPosted on 14th Sep

A woman has reminded people of the importance of the air ambulance service, which she says helped her to avoid a life in a wheelchair after a terrifying fall while horse riding.

Eleven years ago Cassandra Jameson was a patient flown by Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) after she suffered severe spinal injuries when she fell off a horse during a riding lesson in a remote location in Sherwood Forest.

It was vital for a successful recovery that she had the smoothest and quickest transfer to be treated at Royal Derby Hospital. The flight took just nine minutes.

“I am eternally grateful that I was flown in the helicopter as by land ambulance it would probably have been a very different outcome,” Cassandra said.

“Thanks to the air ambulance I am able to walk again and I’m not in a wheelchair.”

Cassandra, 44, who recently worked in the Newark area, is an experienced rider who enjoys an active lifestyle today, but she knows that things could have been very different.
“Almost every day I do something and think that there was a good chance I may not have walked again,” she explained.

“It is thanks in huge part to the air ambulance that I still have a normal life and can do the things I enjoy.”

This includes riding, walking her dog, diving on a Caribbean holiday to mark her 40th birthday and a recent career change to work in the health care system with a view to becoming a midwife.

“Many of these would have been impossible or downright difficult if I had been unable to walk,” Cassandra added.

Her accident happened when she was having a show jumping lesson at a riding school in Sherwood Forest.

She was attempting a combination fence of three jumps in a row when her horse refused to go over the second and Cassandra fell off.

“The horse went one way and I went another. I leant forward to get my feet out of the stirrups and landed in a sitting position on the ground,” she recalled.

“I was very badly winded but not in pain. I had feeling in my legs but not around my torso, which was worrying,” she says.

The impact of the fall badly compressed Cassandra’s spine and she sustained a fracture to her L1 vertebrae in the middle of her back and damage to three vertebrae in her neck.
Due to the seriousness of the spinal injuries and the remote location of the accident, the air ambulance attended.

Cassandra was made comfortable and placed on a stretcher to keep her stable during the quick flight to hospital.

After being assessed by doctors, she underwent a six-hour emergency operation to repair her spine with a vertebral body stent and kyphoplasty.

Remarkably she was up and walking later that day and discharged from hospital after a week.

“We didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk again until after the operation, so it was a great relief when I did. It could have been a very different story,” she said.

It was six months before Cassandra was well enough to return to work and she had to undergo a gruelling regime of physiotherapy to get to that point.

During her recovery, she did some fundraising for various charities, including DLRAA, whilst flat on her back. For this dedication, she was presented with an award by a local radio station.

“I will forever be a supporter of the local air ambulance charity — without it, I would not have had many of the life experiences I have enjoyed since my accident,” she said.

The DLRAA is launching new helicopters early next year. To support its lifesaving work go to https://theairambulanceservice.org.uk/ways-to-give/

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