Mum’s life time of thanks to air ambulance crew

Julie Johnson pictured with Dr Dion Arbid when she visitied the GNAAs base.
Julie Johnson pictured with Dr Dion Arbid when she visitied the GNAAs base.

A woman whose life was saved after a Mother’s Day collision has met the air medic who flew to her aid.

Julie Johnson, from Donwell in Washington, was on her way to visit her daughter when she collided with another vehicle near Houghton.

Julie Johnson pictured in hospital following the collision.

Julie Johnson pictured in hospital following the collision.

A trauma team from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was sent to the scene.

Mrs Johnson, 46, an office worker at Npower in Houghton, can remember nothing about the crash and was left badly hurt and unconscious.

Her daughter, Danielle Piper, 31, recalled the moment she found out her mother had been involved in a crash.

She said: “It was awful.

I know that without a doubt I wouldn’t be here without them.

Julie Johnson

“I checked my phone and I had lots of missed calls.

“My uncle asked me to contact him as soon as possible. 
“He said my mam had been in an accident.

“When he said the air ambulance had been called, I knew it must be pretty bad.”

But it turned out to be worse that she had first feared.

Mrs Johnson broke her neck in two places, her collar bone, shoulder blade, eleven ribs and damaged an optical nerve.

Dr Dion Arbid, a doctor on board the GNAAS aircraft, was flown to the scene alongside an aircrew paramedic.

The specialist medical team put her into a medically induced coma - a procedure only carried out in the most serious of cases.

After treatment, she was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, a hospital which sees more than 130,000 patients every year, with 650 to 700 cases classed as ‘major trauma’ patients.

Mrs Johnson, whose collision happened in 2012, has had four operations on her neck and two operations on her eyes.

As a result of her injuries, she still suffers from pain and is affected by double vision.

Now she has visited the GNAAS airbase at Durham Tees Valley Airport to pay a personal thanks to Dr Arbid, alongside her husband Stuart Johnson and Miss Piper.

Mrs Johnson said: “I’ve wanted to meet the staff who saved my life for the last five years but it’s only now that I feel ready.

“I know that without a doubt I wouldn’t be here without them.

“It’s had a big impact on my life, and it is hard at times, but I cannot thank the air ambulance enough.

“If it was not for the expertise of the staff on board and the fact that I was flown to hospital, rather than being in a road ambulance, I wouldn’t have survived.

“Thank you isn’t enough but I do thank them for every single day that I’m here.”

Because of the care her family received, Miss Piper, a mother-of-two who lives in Ashington, was inspired to leave her job as a dental nurse to complete a higher education diploma and an adult nursing degree with Northumbria University.

She said: “I am so grateful to GNAAS and the staff at Newcastle’s RVI.

“They were both amazing.
“They prepared me at different steps along the way of my mother’s journey.

“They inspired me to become a nurse.”

Mrs Johnson said: “I am so proud of what she has achieved and the career path she’s chosen.”

She added: “Without everyone I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.

“There really are no words big enough to express our thanks.”

GNAAS is celebrating its 15 year anniversary as a charity and anyone who would like to lend their support can visit www.gnaas.com.