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Bryony’s story – Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Between October 2013 and 2014, Thames Valley Air Ambulance was called to 48 serious and life-threatening incidents involving horse riders within the counties of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

This is the story of 24 year old Bryony Jones who was working at a stable yard in Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire one sunny Sunday morning in 2013 when the horse she was leading unexpectedly kicked her in the head.

Bryony was unresponsive with an obvious head wound. Her friend immediately called 999 and it became clear that her injuries were potentially life-threatening. Thames Valley Air Ambulance was dispatched and quickly arrived at the scene, bringing an emergency medical doctor and paramedic team who can perform advanced life-saving medical intervention only otherwise found in a hospital A&E department. Bryony had a complex skull fracture - her eye socket was smashed, her forehead had a fracture across the front and her sinus was crushed. Her brain membrane had ruptured and she sustained damage to her brain.

Bryony’s condition was very serious and the air ambulance doctor had to sedate and intubate her at the scene in order to stabilise her condition and prevent further brain injury. Without this critical intervention, Bryony may not have made it to the hospital in time to prevent serious brain damage or even save her life. Her diagnosis and treatment continued in flight to the John Radcliffe, meaning crucial decisions about her care were made in advance of her reaching hospital, shaving off valuable minutes that proved essential to her survival and recovery.

Bryony’s mum recalls: “Your crew calmly and efficiently controlled the situation and had Bryony transferred to John Radcliffe Hospital sedated and intubated. Even from that first phone call that I received from the scene with the chilling news, I felt that my daughter was in the best and safest hands and was very reassured. I was in awe of these incredible people who had taken such care of my girl and I was incredibly humbled.”

Bryony was moved to neuro intensive care and remained sedated for 10 days as the John Radcliffe medical team made several attempts to bring her round. Over the next 17 days Bryony gradually started to respond.

One month after the accident Bryony was transferred to rehab. At that time she was able to breathe for herself, pull herself up and gradually started to communicate. She made great progress in rehab and was eventually able to go home. Physiotherapy continued at a local YMCA gym with a specialist neuro injury rehabilitation instructor. Her speech, social and physical recovery progress was phenomenal.

Nineteen months on from the accident Bryony has regained her driving licence and is now a fully qualified gym instructor with a special qualification in exercise and disability. She has also worked to raise awareness of safety around horses.

Karen added: “The last nineteen months have been an incredible journey. We have been so very lucky to have had the benefit of the skill and expertise of a range of people, all of whom are very quiet and modest. Bryony has had her life saved and all these individuals have made such a huge positive impact on Bryony's life and, consequently, on mine too. I will never be able to thank them all but I am deeply humbled and very grateful to them all.”

Bryony has made an incredible recovery, but still has further cranioplasty planned to repair her skull. She is an incredibly brave and inspirational young woman and we wish her and her family all the best.

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