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Police officer Tony regularly attends road traffic incidents, working with emergency services colleagues to treat injured patients.  Yet when he was involved in a collision with another vehicle, he was unable to help his daughter seated in the back of the car.

Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire’s Air Ambulance’s (LNAA) doctor, Adam said: “Tony and his three-year-old daughter Poppy were trapped in the car.  We could see Tony was in a bad way and Poppy was clearly distressed and shouting for daddy to wake up.”

Tony had just left Lincoln and was driving along the A15 to his home near Sleaford.

It had always been a joke between father and daughter that every time they passed LNAA’s Head Quarters, Tony would ask Poppy “Is the helicopter awake or asleep?” If the helicopter was on its helipad Poppy shouted “awake!”  If it was out on a call or in the hangar her response would be “asleep!”

On that day in October 2023, the helicopter was ‘asleep’ but Tony doesn’t recall Poppy replying to his question, so he assumed she had fallen asleep. His next recollection was being trapped in his car with a fire fighter trying to free him.

LNAA crew arrived within 11 minutes in one of the critical care cars.  Similar to the helicopter, it carried life-saving drugs and all the equipment needed to treat  critically injured patients at the roadside.

After the crew from Lincoln Fire and Rescue had cut the rear doors off the car, Adam treated Poppy for her injuries and carried her to the safety of LNAA’s car, staying with her until the road ambulance arrived to take her Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.

Tony had multiple cuts and bruises to his head as well as severe damage to both legs and was given pain relief to ease his discomfort. It took a while for fire crew to free him from the car, and the LNAA team monitored him constantly, but finally he was also taken to QMC in a separate road ambulance.

Tony underwent emergency surgery and had metal rods inserted into his right leg. Recovery is ongoing but with continued physiotherapy the strength in his legs is increasing each week.

He has no recollection of the incident and for months could not shake the tremendous guilt of being unable to console Poppy whilst they were trapped.

But when the family visited LNAA’s HQ, Dr Adam was able to put Tony’s mind at rest. Tony said: “The painkillers must have blocked my memory. I felt so guilty, so to hear Adam tell me that I was awake and reassuring Poppy that we would be ok, has really helped me.”

The family will be forever grateful for care they received. As Tony said: “LNAA were brilliant. No one wants to see you guys, but it is so good to know you are there and why you are needed so badly when things go wrong.”