Spoiler alert: he's ok!
23 medical professionals of all shapes and expertises were waiting for our eleven year-old when he was airlifted to Southampton hospital. 23. Mrs W, also emerging from the helicopter, counted them methodically in her surreal and terrified state as they swarmed around the patient.
It had all started as a bog-standard, bright and breezy Sunday morning. Team Webb and another family staying for the weekend, had popped out for a bracing stroll to the beach, giving me space and time to go about my slow-motion getting washed and dressed routine...
Twenty minutes later, in burst Steve, the other dad, gasping and flustered after his half-mile run back to the house. My hasty assumption that he had popped back for a phone or a wallet was quickly cast aside when I saw his startled, pained eyes trained on me. He struggled for breath and to gasp words out as quickly as he could, but I soon understood that our son had been in an accident. And whilst I was repeatedly being told "he's ok", I sensed Steve was somewhat 'white lying' to keep me calm.
After all, as I later learned, our son had waited for one car to pass only to run out in front of the one behind. He took the impact on his hip, was tossed onto the windscreen, casually cracking the windscreen with his head on his way onto and over the roof, then tumbling to lie motionless in a ditch on the other side of the road. He was briefly unconscious, so remembers only the impact, then waking up on the grass, surrounded by concerned family, friends, bystanders and a seriously traumatised driver.
I could only look on helpless and sobbing as I watched the Air Ambulance lift my son and wife to Southampton hospital - a nine minute journey as it turns out. Our agonising one, following in the car, was closer to an hour. Being reunited with Samuel in hospital and seeing him conscious and whole was heart-burstingly emotional beyond anything I've ever experienced. A long hug from Mrs W too. Bonus.
Long story short, Samuel miraculously got away with deep cuts, bruises, some internal bleeding, shock and concussion. A combination I think of luck, a sensible driver and superb care from the paramedics, then the wonderful team at Southampton Hospital. He was out in 24 hours, and doing a phased return to school just ten days later. The outcome could have been so different, and we're all still coming to terms with it.
A post I put up on LinkedIn, in praise of the NHS front-line response, has gone a bit (a lot) bonkers. 4.5 million views, just short of 50,000 Likes. And one troll, long since hounded off. Hundreds of comments, some heartbreaking, many moving, about care received.
I know we are quick to complain about wait times for appointments, hours lost in drafty hospital corridors. That's more often than not about resources. But when the chips are down, bloody hell, there are some amazing people working in the NHS. Thank you, thank you, thank you.