Brain Injury; Eric’s Story | Actions for Survival

Here at Actions for Survival we are no strangers to life threatening emergencies. Our team consists of former Paramedics and current and former Nurses who have all dealt with emergencies and scenarios similar to what we teach in our programs. Although we are fully equipped to deal with an emergency, nothing quite prepares you for when it is one of your own.

On November 27th last year, we had our annual strategy planning meeting – the whole team were in the office, optimistically planning the year ahead. That was until we heard a crash and thud coming from the foyer on our lunch break. We came out from our boardroom to find our Taranaki Regional Training Manager, Eric Little, unconscious on the floor – he had appeared to have fallen down our flight of stairs, hitting his head on the concrete flooring below on impact. We immediately responded. The week prior to this happening, we had been involved in another emergency situation, along with Eric, and had witnessed the chaos that can overtake a real life emergency.

We had already determined he was unconscious but breathing, so whilst one of us supported his head, others moved him onto his side, and I called 111. The rest of the team did what they could; Including cleaning up the surrounding area of broken glass as he was holding a plate and glass when he fell. Further care was administered including checking on vital signs and keeping him warm by placing a blanket over him.

The ambulance arrived shortly after we placed the call to 111. The 3 Paramedics that arrived did a fantastic job, they were calm and responsive. They took him to Auckland hospital – at this point he was still unresponsive, but breathing. For us, watching our colleague and friend being taken away in an ambulance was a numbing feeling – we teach these scenarios on a daily basis, but you never wish to encounter it so close to home. 24 hours later he still wasn’t responding. Scans showed he had brain bleeds and swelling. For us, and his family, this was now a waiting game.

7 days later he regained consciousness; the following days revealed the extent of his injuries. In the first few days, he couldn’t say his age, what year it was, what month Christmas was in, or recall his past as a Paramedic or First Aid Instructor. However, he was aware of the people visiting him, and could recall names and who they were in his life. The team at Auckland hospital did an amazing job; their one to one care resulted in small improvements, enough for him to move onto the next step in his recovery.

3 weeks later he was moved to ABI Rehabilitation in Auckland, ABI Rehab provides residential and community based rehab for people with traumatic brain injury or stroke. They offer a multitude of different services. Eric was placed in residential care, which begins a process to transition him back into the community. Through daily physio and treatment plans he worked his way up through the different stages of recovery, relearning basic tasks (walking, talking, reading and writing) and making incredible progress every day – through his determination and willpower.

In those initial weeks after the accident his prognoses was not a good one, slowly but surely his bubbly personality returned, and our colleague and friend was defying all the odds, powering through every challenge or barrier and ultimately winning the fight against a serious Brain Injury. 2 months after his accident, on January 27th, Eric was discharged from ABI Rehab and flown back home to Taranaki with his partner.

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We are so pleased to be able to say that Eric has now settled back into his day to day life in Taranaki, he attends daily physio and continues to make improvements every day. Day 1 after he went back home he was already out in the garden mowing the lawns.

Quick response from us, the Ambulance Paramedics, the care he received at both Auckland Hospital and ABI Rehab and the amazing determination from Eric is what made the difference to his recovery. We would like to thank ABI Rehab for looking after our Eric, and getting him back to the normality that can be so easily taken away from us, and a massive Congratulations to Eric himself, for everything that he has achieved in the last 3 & 1/2 months.

If you’d like to know more about Brain Injury Awareness, visit these websites;
THINK NZ
Brainweek
Brain Injury Support

If you’d like to know more about how YOU can help take Action and save a life – contact us to book onto one of our First Aid courses.

1 comment… add one

  • Kyley Penfold March 16, 2016, 7:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing my Dad’s story and for writing it so beautifully. Thank you all for saving his life and for doing everything that you did to take care of him. Thank you also for reaching out to support Heather and myself too when we were in Auckland. I will forever be grateful to you all. I am so proud of him and all that he has overcome.

    Kyley xoxoxo

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