A teenager who was helped by the region’s first Medical Emergency Response Incident Team (MERIT) has backed the service after he survived a serious car accident.
Patrick Whyte, an 18-year-old A-Level student from Eaglescliffe, was involved in the crash after leaving a house party in Long Newton, near Darlington, last September at around 8.30pm.
Mr Whyte was the passenger his friend’s Ford Fiesta. They were travelling along Long Newton Lane when the car hit a dip in the road causing the driver to lose control. The car hit a barrier and spun before coming to rest.
Mr Whyte sustained multiple serious injuries including fractures to his spine, cheek bone, ribs and shoulder blade as well as a punctured lung, broken collarbone, and various head injuries. As a result of the trauma, he suffered a severe case of subcutaneous emphysema, where air from the chest cavity gets trapped beneath the skin. Stuart Thompson, senior aircrew paramedic at GNAAS, said it was the worst such case he had ever encountered.
On arriving at scene, Mr Thompson and the GNAAS doctor found Mr Whyte to be extremely agitated – a common symptom of serious trauma. He was put into an induced coma on the roadside. This anaesthetic procedure is only available to doctors and therefore would not have been possible without the MERIT.
He was then taken by North East Ambulance Service to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, where his mother, Ruth Whyte, had been informed of the incident and was waiting.
Mrs Whyte, 47, said: “It was horrible when he arrived at hospital. He didn’t know where he was, who he was and he kept on asking for his mum, but I was there.
“Once his chest had been treated, I was only worried about his head injuries, he wasn’t Patrick until I knew that his head was sorted.”
Mr Whyte has now fully recovered from his injuries and recently visited the GNAAS airbase with his family to meet and thank Mr Thompson for his help on the day.
Mr Whyte said: “I feel all better now and I’m back at college so it’s all good. I appreciate life more now as you don’t realise how easy it is to lose it, I now appreciate the little things.”