Toddler recovers from bedroom window fall

Joseph Bulmer

Air ambulance crews praised for their part in Christmas morning rescue mission.

THE parents of a three-year-old boy have praised air ambulance crews who flew an emergency Christmas Day mission to save his life.

A morning that started with stockings hung on beds and presents around the tree very nearly ended in tragedy for the Downing family when young Freddie fell 20 feet from a bedroom window.

Mum Andrea’s joy turned to horror as she rushed outside to find Freddie lying on his front on the patio below.

The shocked tot – twin to sister Minnie and brother to Maisie, 6, and Eden, 4 – only had minor grazes but struggled to open his eyes and was in a very distressed state.

As she gingerly picked him up, Andrea called to husband Simon to phone for an ambulance.

A helicopter crew from Devon Air Ambulance’s North Devon airbase arrived at their Bradworthy home within minutes and flew Freddie to hospital with a suspected fractured skull.

“It was all so terrifying,” said Andrea, who was able to join Freddie on the flight to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, while dad Simon followed by car.

“We had been having such a lovely day, with all the children so excited about their new presents and knowing that all our family was coming over to join us for a lovely lunch later that day.

“But when Freddie had his accident, everything changed.”

On arrival at Derriford, tests by a specialist team discovered the toddler had also suffered a seizure and arranged for a transfer to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for specialist neurological care.

With the North Devon aircrew now deployed on a subsequent mission, it was the Exeter-based crew that flew to the rescue, collecting Freddie for the flight to Bristol.

“Fred’s condition was absolutely critical when we arrived at Frenchay – we were so frightened,” said Andrea, who drove to Bristol with Simon, while an anaesthetist took the spare seat in the helicopter.

Emergency surgery revealed two blood clots on Freddie’s brain. With monitors constantly checking the pressure, his life hung in the balance for the next few days.

Just as there was hope that things were beginning to improve, he developed a lung infection and, as that worsened, was transferred to yet another hospital, this time the Bristol Children’s Infirmary.

On New Year’s Eve, almost a full week after the accident, doctors felt they could start to wake Freddie up and to his mum and dad’s delight he opened his eyes.

He was still on drips and monitors but made gradual progress as each day went by, smiling and showing signs of talking again.

He was very happy when his sisters came to visit and Maisie was delighted to be able to read him a story in bed.

Freddie was finally discharged from hospital on January 12 and seems to be none the worse for his ordeal.

On Monday, the grateful family paid a visit to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust’s Eaglescott airbase at Burrrington, near Umberleigh, to meet the crews who helped save Freddie’s life.

Andrea said, “We are just so grateful that Freddie is so well now, and to everyone who helped us, both the aircrews who flew those mercy missions, and to the staff in the hospitals.

“The village has really pulled together for us and everyone is so relieved.

“We are now planning to hold a range of fund-raising activities and I’m hopeful that the whole village will join in.”