Family thank medics after Christmas Day crash

A mother and son have personally thanked the air ambulance medics which came to their aid after a car crash left them with life-changing injuries on Christmas Day.

Elizabeth Dutschak and James Kavanagh Dutschak from Jesmond were involved in a head-on collision on Sandy Lane in Gosforth last year.

The pair were travelling home after visiting family when a drink driver careered over a roundabout and smashed into their car which rolled over, leaving James trapped.

James, 19, said: “After being hit, we skidded and were thrown into the air. I was told I was trapped for around an hour.”

Elizabeth, in her forties, said: “I was upside down and a passer-by pulled me from the car. It was horrendous.”

An all-night rapid response vehicle staffed by Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) medics and funded by North East Ambulance Service went to their aid.

GNAAS doctor Dion Arbid and paramedic Stuart Thompson administered strong pain relief to James who had suffered multiple serious injuries including fractures to his spine, femur, ankle and foot.

Elizabeth had also suffered fractures to her spine and sternum among other internal injuries.

Now after months of recovery, the pair have met the medics which rushed to the scene, and visited the GNAAS airbase at Durham Tees Valley Airport to express their gratitude.

James, who will soon return to Newcastle University to study politics after having to defer his course for a year, said: “It’s had a big impact on my life but we are both so grateful to the air ambulance team which were able to get to us. We just feel lucky that they were there when we needed them.

“We’ll be forever thankful. Life is so precious and you just have to treasure it and those closest to you.

“The wraparound care has been amazing, from being scooped up from the roadside and all the subsequent care after that. We wanted to show our appreciation to those at the scene.”

Dr Arbid said: “It was a pleasure to see James and his mum Elizabeth again. As it was at a poignant time of year, it’s a call-out that sticks in my mind, so to see and hear about their recovery is fantastic.”

The family are now looking forward to this year’s Christmas day, which is also James’ birthday.

Critical Care 24/7 Appeal

The GNAAS rapid response vehicle was able to be there for James and Elizabeth, but it currently only operates four nights a week.

We want to be there for even more people. We want to be able to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week and for you to know that the time of day, or days of the week does not determine the level of care you receive in a life-threatening situation.

We have launched the Critical Care 24/7 Appeal to enable us to do this.

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