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‘Meeting Annabel was a special moment’ - Air ambulance crew reunited with toddler after life-saving mission

Annabel Brightwell meets the air ambulance crew who saved her life Picture: EAAA

Annabel Brightwell meets the air ambulance crew who saved her life Picture: EAAA

Archant

A toddler who suffered a cardiac arrest at her Suffolk pre-school has been reunited with the air ambulance crew who saved her life.

Parents William and Rebecca Brightwell with children Annabel and George meet the air ambulance crew who saved Annabel's life Picture: EAAAParents William and Rebecca Brightwell with children Annabel and George meet the air ambulance crew who saved Annabel's life Picture: EAAA

Three-year-old Annabel Brightwell collapsed at Barking Pre-school in February due to a pre-existing heart condition unknown to her parents.

Staff at the pre-school administered CPR for 20 minutes until a crew from the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) arrived at the scene.

Pilots Olly Gates and Gavin Blake flew the team of Dr Victor Inyang, Dr Jon Barratt and critical care paramedic Chris Neil to the pre-school and arrived just 17 minutes after receiving the call.

MORE: ‘We’re eternally grateful’: Suffolk parents thank life-saving staff at Barking Pre-school for quick action

Despite the successful resuscitation by the pre-school team, Annabel was deeply unconscious and her airway was compromised.

William, Annabel and Rebecca Brightwell. Picture: GREGG BROWNWilliam, Annabel and Rebecca Brightwell. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The team gave her a general anaesthetic in order to protect her airway and breathing – which is extremely rare outside of a hospital – and it took the team just 16 minutes to complete the process.

After gaining control of the toddler’s airway the crew made the decision to fly her to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

On the latter half of the journey Annabel deteriorated further and required intervention with specialist drugs.

The team were met at the hospital by the specialist paediatric resuscitation team and at this point Annabel went into cardiac arrest for a further two hours.

Annabel Brightwell met up with air ambulance staff Picture: GREGG BROWNAnnabel Brightwell met up with air ambulance staff Picture: GREGG BROWN

Against all the odds and after receiving further specialist care in hospital, Annabel has made a remarkable recovery and returned to her pre-school later in the year.

The EAAA has now launched its ‘Together This Christmas’ campaign and is asking people to consider giving a little extra over the festive period to bring more patients such as Annabel home to their families.

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Chris Neil, critical care paramedic at EAAA, said: “On that day I was able to utilise all of my skills I have learnt in my 25 years working within pre-hospital emergency medicine.

“The job was truly career defining. It stretched my abilities, resilience and emotions and had the most amazing outcome. Meeting Annabel a few months later was a special moment and one I will always treasure.”

William and Rebecca Brightwell thanked pre-school staff and the air ambulance crew for saving their daughter Annabel's life  Picture: GREGG BROWNWilliam and Rebecca Brightwell thanked pre-school staff and the air ambulance crew for saving their daughter Annabel's life Picture: GREGG BROWN

Rebecca and William, Annabel’s parents, who live at Willisham Tye, near Needham Market, said; “As a parent you never want to hear that your child is in need of emergency medical attention.

“Our world was shattered when we learnt that our three-year-old was being air lifted to Addenbrooke’s. Thankfully the EAAA played a vital part in our daughter’s chain of survival.

“The expertise, compassion and care they have provided during and after that unforgettable day in February, has enabled us to put into perspective how incredible and invaluable their service is. We are forever grateful.”

Anyone wishing to support EAAA can visit its dedicated Christmas campaign page at www.justgiving.com/campaign/EAAAchristmas2018

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