19-year-old Georgia Gallanagh-Edwards had enjoyed a day out with her boyfriend, Joss Gallanagh-Edwards at a local tourist attraction. The pair were travelling home on Joss’ motorbike, but what was just another sunny August afternoon turned into a day that changed the young couple’s lives.
Georgia, now 28, recalls the events of that fateful day: “We took a detour via Joss’ house before setting off again, so he could take me home. I have no recollection of leaving his house or the events that followed.”
The familiar journey to Bromsgrove would usually take five minutes, however they were involved in a horrific road traffic collision. A car pulled out onto the roundabout that they were travelling around and struck the motorbike.
While Joss flew to the floor and suffered a dislocated collar bone, pillion, Georgia was thrown through the air and landed in front of the vehicle that had hit them.
Georgia explains: “The car did not stop and ran over me. I was trapped under the vehicle and dragged ten metres along the road.”
She briefly gained consciousness but was paralysed and unable to breathe. Her mouth was full of blood. One thing that Georgia remembers was the kindness of a bystander who lay on the floor next to the car so that for her fleeting moments of consciousness, she was not alone.
Joss recalls: “Seeing Georgia crushed under a car and feeling powerless to help was soul-destroying.
“When I heard the emergency services were on the way, I felt utter relief. The news an air ambulance had been diverted to us felt like Superman himself had slapped on his spandex and was on his way.”
Carol and Michael Gallanagh, Georgia’s parents, said: “We were in the garden and an air ambulance flew over, we commented that someone was clearly in trouble. A couple of hours later, two police officers and Joss’ dad were on our doorstep telling us that that someone was in fact our daughter.”
In addition to the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s Strensham-based aircrew, police, fire and three land ambulances also attended the scene. Firstly, the fire crew freed Georgia, the aircrew were then able to administer enhanced treatment and anaesthetise Georgia.
Jim Hancox, assistant air operations manager and critical care paramedic for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, said: “Georgia was in a critical condition and the injuries Georgia sustained required treatment on scene before we were able to even convey her to hospital.”
As Georgia had sustained multiple catastrophic injuries she was treated as a polytrauma patient. These injuries included fractures to her jaw, wrist, sacrum, lower spine and femur, a pelvis shattered in six places, ruptured liver, two collapsed lungs, third degree burns on her back, road burns to her hip, shoulder and scalp, severe facial lacerations and a deviated septum.
Georgia was flown to a major trauma centre, Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, for treatment. She was placed in an induced coma and spent three days in intensive care, during which hospital surgeons inserted a metal plate into her femur and cleaned her wounds.
She recalls: “I woke up from the coma, pulled out my ventilation tube as I had no idea where I was and no memory of the incident.
“I spent two months in hospital on the military trauma ward and burns unit.”
She underwent two skin grafts and received physiotherapy. Once discharged, Georgia spent two years in a wheelchair and over the past nine years, she has undergone a further 15 surgeries.
Georgia has also received psychotherapy to help heal the mental scars as she now suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.
She comments: “Before that day, me and Joss were carefree teenagers enjoying life as a young couple with little responsibility. The accident thrust us into something not many people would come through. It was incredibly difficult to become so reliant on other people and for Joss to become my carer.”
Nine years on and Georgia is now Mrs Gallanagh-Edwards and she and Joss are expecting their first child. Georgia also now owns and manages an award-winning nursery.
Carol explains: “There is no doubt in my mind that it was the magnificent team in the red flying machine that saved Georgia’s life.”
Joss adds: “I am eternally grateful to Midlands Air Ambulance for giving her the chance to survive, live her life and letting me be a part of it all.”
Georgia has the last word: “When I was told what had happened to me, it became apparent that without the air ambulance I would not be here today. I cannot put into words my gratitude, I owe them my life.”