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In July 2019 Jane Hallett from Bridport feared the worst when she crash-landed while paragliding and was unable to move… Jane shares her story.

“It was a beautiful evening and I had finished work a little early, so I decided to dash home and grab my paragliding kit. When I arrived at Eype there were a couple of other paragliders there and the weather was perfect.

I took off and enjoyed a few beats up and down the ridge taking in the breath-taking views before deciding to follow a friend into land. I turned to descend, but then things became very unclear; the ground was blurring, but appeared to be directly under my feet. I slipped my legs out and pulled on the brakes expecting my feet to feel the ground, but confusion hit me when nothing happened. It was quiet. Then I felt the ground - I’d landed on the beach. The pain in my back was incredible and I immediately knew that I was really hurt. I managed to use my radio to call for help."

Beach rescue in EypeA reassuring sound

"Meanwhile, a fellow paraglider who was in the sea at that point had seen what happened and rushed to my aid. Another flew down from the cliff to help and he immediately called the emergency services. The ambulance was the first on the scene and then it seemed as though help was coming to me from all directions.

The sound of the helicopter was the best noise I could have wished for at that moment. The pain was excruciating, and I was quickly given something to help with that. Things were happening very swiftly around me and everyone was working together. My clothes were cut off but I didn’t care, I just wanted to be ok. I was given a heat blanket, which was my favourite possession (and later wanted by every nurse in the hospital).

Aircrew paramedic, Darren Hall, seemed to be leading the now-massive group of medics; he took charge and I knew that I was in good hands. His colleague, Adrian Parker, kept talking to me all the while making me feel calmer. Before long I was transferred to a board; I was strapped in and my head was in a block to keep it steady. I felt very vulnerable, but I had complete trust in the people around me."

Help patients like Jane

Total trust

"Soon I was in the helicopter; I couldn’t see very much but I was so pleased to be off the beach and on my way to hospital. I was in Dorset County Hospital A&E in no time and was dealt with immediately upon arrival. Everything is a little hazy after that but I remember being told that I’d broken my vertebrae. I was given a lot of attention throughout the night and I spent the first few days lying flat on my back looking at nothing but the ceiling. I could barely raise my feet even a couple of centimetres off the bed.

“Amazingly, I was back home with my children two weeks after the incident (albeit in my brace) and they were so grateful to have their mum back with no long-term damage. I realise how lucky I was, and I owe it to the whole team, but the Air Ambulance crew were my true saviours, and I will be forever grateful.” 

In the months after the accident, Devon Air Ambulance kept in contact with Jane, who has since become a volunteer for the charity that means so much to her. She told us:

“My specialist has now said that my back will never be quite as it was before the accident. It took longer to heal than I’d expected, and it definitely affected me emotionally as well as physically. But, looking back, this time last year I was still in the brace and feeling really quite low. But I went back to the place of my accident recently – I watched other paragliders flying and realised that it was ok - that I was ok.

I’m finally back in the water, swimming and paddle boarding again and I’m even back to doing yoga. Christmas this year will be very different from last and I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to volunteer for Devon Air Ambulance, to whom I remain so grateful.

Thank you for helping patients like Jane by supporting our campaign this year. Your generosity helps us to continue to be there to care.

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