A TEENAGER who broke his back last year after falling approximately 12 metres down a quarry has made a “remarkable recovery” and is already back playing football.
Travis Dixon, 15, was enjoying the Summer holidays by going on a bike ride with his friend in Newton Aycliffe, where he lives, on 2 August 2022 when they approached Middridge Quarry.
They were both walking along the edge of the quarry when Travis slipped and fell to the bottom, temporarily knocking him unconscious.
On gaining consciousness, Travis called 999 whilst his friend made his way down the quarry to help him. On noticing Travis was bleeding heavily from his head, his friend took his t-shirt off and held it against his head to stop the bleeding.
Recalling the incident, Travis said: “When I hit the bottom I knocked myself out but my mate didn’t know I was just knocked out, he saw me lying on the floor and thought that I might be dead.”
After calling for help, he rang his parents to let them know what had happened.
He said: “I was winded and couldn’t breathe properly for about five minutes. I knew my mam was at work so I called my dad first, and then her.”
Travis’ mother Emma Dixon, 33, said: “He literally told me, you need to get here quick I think I’m going to die. He genuinely did think he was dying at that point.”
North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) immediately dispatched paramedics Rebekah Vonk, Ian Hunwick and Ken Heads from its Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) who, knowing how difficult the location would be to reach, requested back-up from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).
They arrived near the scene and headed on foot to where Travis was before assessing his injuries and wrapping him up in foil blankets.
GNAAS’ aircraft The Guardian of the North II was able to land close by, and Dr Mike Davison and paramedic Hollie Smith, from the charity’s critical care team, worked alongside NEAS to treat Travis.
Rebekah said: “Without the GNAAS team, it would have been a long and bumpy two-mile journey on our stretcher in the beaming hot sun, which would have taken over an hour and wouldn’t have been very comfortable for Travis.
“We were quite concerned for the patient when we saw where he had fallen from but alongside the GNAAS team on scene, we were able to work together to deliver the pre-hospital clinical care he needed.”
Together, they wheeled Travis on a stretcher to the aircraft and GNAAS flew him straight to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where, after an initial trauma assessment, he was transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and spent nearly a week in hospital.
Travis had several breaks in his spine, three breaks in his pelvis, a broken ankle, punctured both lungs and lacerated his kidneys.
He said: “I’m thankful for the teams at NEAS and GNAAS for their help.
“I’ve since had a lot of physio and gym sessions, and I did one on one football sessions before going back to football after three months off.”
Travis and his family recently visited GNAAS’ base and met Hollie, who was surprised to find out that her personal trainer has also been rehabilitating Travis and helped him get his fitness back.
Hollie said: “It was really rewarding to see Travis doing so well only three months after his fall. Despite his injuries, he has made a remarkable recovery, and I am amazed that he is back playing football already.”
Rebekah added: “To be playing football again after those kinds of injuries is nothing short of amazing, it reflects his dedication to his craft. It’s great to hear he has recovered so well.”