Written by Editorial Team, DonateToday
Published: Wednesday, 14th March 2018

When an expectant mother was stabbed in Sutton Coldfield, Midlands Air Ambulance took just 12 minutes to prepare her for an emergency flight

In 2016, Natalie Queiroz was expecting her third child when she was attacked on Sutton Coldfield High Street. Thanks to the brave intervention of five passers-by and the land ambulance crew, she was still alive, but in need of urgent hospital treatment.

Serious Condition

‘When my attacker was eventually pulled off me I knew I was in a really serious condition as I was heavily bleeding from many areas, including my chest, stomach and the main artery in my wrist,’ Natalie remembers.

Passers-by had intervened, and the land ambulance crew had administered first response, but the severity of Natalie’s injuries meant she needed to get to a hospital urgently, and that meant getting a helicopter as close to her as possible.

Police cordoned off an area of Sutton Coldfield High Street while members of the public watched on. With ultimate composure and expert pilot skills, Captain Richard Steele landed his helicopter, accompanied by Dr Ravi Chauhan and Critical Care Paramedic Steven Mitchell.

Dr Chauhan made a swift assessment of Natalie’s condition. She was heavily pregnant with multiple stab wounds, respiratory issues, low blood pressure and significant loss of blood. She required urgent surgical intervention.

Flight

The team prepared the expectant mother for transfer to the QE Hospital in Birmingham in just 12 minutes.

During the flight, the clinical team made all necessary interventions in flight on the way to the hospital, including managing Natalie’s blood pressure and intravenous medication, as well as imply providing reassurance and a hand to hold.

Critical Care Paramedic, Karen Baker, provided support to both the land ambulance paramedics, as well as the aircrew in flight, and it was she who liaised with the hospital to ensure the most appropriate teams of medical professionals would be ready and waiting to receive Natalie when the air ambulance delivered her into their care.

Medical professionals including Obstetric Surgeons, a Neonatal team, an Anaesthetic team and an Intensive Care team, as well as Cardiac and General surgeons were on hand, when Natalie arrived in Birmingham.

"'Thank you' will never be enough."

Natalie Queiroz

Calm and Reassured

Following her arrival, Natalie was given blood, an emergency C-section, and major surgery on her heart, lungs, liver, wrist and abdomen. 

The C-section brought a new baby girl into the world, who was immediately put on a ventilator in special care, woken up four days later and, thankfully, was said to be doing well.

Both Natalie and her baby spent a number of weeks in hospital, before returning home – although, Natalie does return regularly for treatment as an outpatient.

Her strength and bravery are admired by all who meet her, and she recalls how she felt at the time of the attack: ‘I sustained, in total, 24 stab wounds to vital areas of my body. I remember being told the Air Ambulance was coming in for me and I felt relief that I would be getting medical help fast.

‘The crew on the Air Ambulance kept me calm and reassured, despite the fact I was struggling to breathe. As I was dashed into the resuscitation unit in the QE, I remember thinking: “Thank God I’m here, as I can’t fight on any longer.”

‘My baby and I would not be here today, if it was not for the Midlands Air Ambulance,’ she admits. ‘My other two daughters would not have their mum or their little sister – ‘thank you’ will never be enough.’

About this charity

Midlands Air Ambulance Charity

Since 1991, the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has undertaken more than 49,000 missions across the six counties in which it operates: Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands.

The charity is responsible for funding and operating three air ambulances which allow patients to be transferred to hospitals in significantly shorter time periods than when patients are transported via land ambulance. If a patient can reach hospital within the period known as the Golden Hour – 60 minutes after their injury – their chances of survival increase dramatically.

Each air ambulance carries a crew, including a pilot, two paramedics or flight doctors and full life-support medical equipment so that patients can be properly cared for during their flight.

Thanks to continuing donor support, the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has been able to achieve several key goals recently. It has enhanced doctor cover on its aircraft; continuing towards its eventual aim of having a doctor on board each of its three aircraft at every call they attend.

It has also extended its capability to conduct inter-hospital transfers through its Community Enabled Lit Landing Sites (CELLS) network and key teams of local responders and strengthened its clinical governance team by appointing a new clinical lead and additional team leaders. These new members of staff will be able to support the charity’s paramedics and doctors and inform the future development of the delivery of medical care to patients.

In the year 2016/2017, the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s number of missions attended rose by 1,600, compared to the same figure from the previous year. It would not have been possible for the charity to increase the number of people it was able to provide vital medical care to, had it not been for the continued support of its much-valued donor community.