Schools & young people

A site for young people, parents, teachers and group leaders to learn about and get involved in supporting Devon Air Ambulance

When Olly Daglish collected his 3-year old daughter, Eliza, from nursery school one afternoon in September 2013, he had no reason to suspect anything was wrong but by early evening the situation had drastically changed.

Olly was putting a very sleepy Eliza to bed but as he tucked her in he saw, to his horror, her eyes roll to the back of her head and it was clear that she was not just sleepy but unable to focus on anything.  Grabbing her back to him and realising that Eliza had become completely floppy, he ran and dialled 999.

Olly remained on the phone for 15 minutes whilst the emergency call taker kept him calm and advised what to do. “I was so frightened but the lady on the phone was brilliant, I just did what she said,” said Olly after the event.  “Eliza was still fitting, her breathing was sporadic and her lips had turned blue.  I put her in the recovery position but if I hadn’t had someone telling me to keep calm, I think I’d have lost the plot completely.”

Land-crew paramedic, Steve Llewellyn-Ford, arrived first and administered oxygen to the little girl as the Devon Air Ambulance helicopter landed nearby and paramedics Mark Hawley and Chris Saunders ran to help.  Whilst many children suffer febrile convulsions and all are worrying, Eliza’s seizure was far from normal. 

Olly’s wife Anna was still out with their seven year old daughter Georgi and, unable to contact them, Olly realised that he may have to accompany Eliza in the aircraft without Anna even knowing what was happening.  Finally, Olly reached a friend who was with Anna, who arrived home as the paramedics were giving Eliza medication prior to her transfer to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.  Watching the terrifying situation unfold before her eyes, Anna watched as Olly and Eliza set off in the helicopter. 

Paramedics Mark Hawley and Chris Saunders monitored Eliza during the flight and Olly feared the worst as her condition deteriorated further still.  Eliza’s condition was still causing concern when she reached hospital and the emergency team recommended that Anna should get there as soon as possible. 

There followed a worrying few hours as Eliza was treated, in AEU and the High Dependency Unit, with significant concerns about the risk of brain damage.  Fortunately, just before midnight, Eliza came round and was very sick but able to talk, much to everyone’s relief.  She was completely exhausted and remained in hospital, undergoing a multitude of tests, for a further three days. 

“A heart murmur was detected during the tests,” Anna explained. “But it is not thought to have been the cause of the seizure.  There is no history of convulsions in the family at all so it was a terrifying ordeal for everyone but we were so glad that Eliza was in such good hands.  Steve, Mark & Chris and Rob the pilot were all so calm and reassuring.  We know that without the amazing job they did, things may have been very different.”

We're always pleased to hear the happy outcome of a patient's story, but due to patient confidentiality we only hear from about 15% of the people we airlift. If you have a story you would like to share we would love to hear from you. Our patient stories are what help our message to be heard.