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Laura’s story

A day like any other

Berkshire mum Laura Turner was putting her two-month-old son, Charlie, into his car seat ready to leave the house for a baby music class when suddenly she was transported from an everyday situation into every parent’s worst nightmare.

Charlie’s normal newborn cry suddenly changed to a more strained sound that Laura hadn’t heard him make before. She realised with a jolt that he had stopped breathing. Quickly taking him out of his seat, Laura felt her baby was floppy and had gone a grey colour. Remembering seeing that there was blood coming out of Charlie’s nose, Laura recalls: “I thought that was it. I thought he was gone.”

At home alone, she had a moment of panic before her instincts kicked in. Laura says, “something just took over. I knew what I had to do.”

Laura had done a first aid course while pregnant with Charlie, so she knew how to give him rescue breaths. She called 999 and a few minutes later, Charlie started breathing slowly. Holding her son in the baby recovery position, Laura began the agonising wait for the emergency services to arrive. “It was only six minutes until the ambulance service and Thames Valley Air Ambulance crew got to us. But those were the longest six minutes of my life. It felt like forever.”

Once help was on hand, the rest is a blur. The Thames Valley Air Ambulance paramedics and doctors, who had arrived by helicopter, worked with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) to get Charlie stable and he was taken to the Royal Berkshire hospital.

Laura went with Charlie in the ambulance and remembers that Charlie’s dad met them at the hospital. “It was then that I broke down”, she says, “until that point, I had no choice but to be strong for Charlie. The reality of what we had been through just suddenly dawned on me.”

Without Thames Valley Air Ambulance, we might not have the happy little boy we have today

Laura Turner

Charlie was put on a ventilator and later transported to the paediatric intensive care unit at the John Radcliffe. He was there for a week, getting steadily better with each passing day. Doctors did every test and scan they possibly could, to find out what had happened to Charlie, but they never came to a definitive conclusion. The most likely answer is that Charlie had suffered a random nosebleed that had triggered a respiratory attack due to him being so tiny.

But, with no diagnosis, Laura then had to face the huge psychological struggle of overcoming her fears that this might happen again. The memories of that day still fresh in her mind, Laura returned home with her son.

Charlie was monitored by paediatricians until he was 18 months old. He is now a healthy, happy three-year-old. A chatty boy who loves to learn, he is thriving at pre-school. 

looking ahead, together

“I can still remember the feeling when help arrived that day”, Laura explains, “it was such a massive relief that my precious son was in safe hands. I knew these people were trained and would do everything they could to fight for him.

“There’s so much I could say to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance crew who came that day. I can’t thank them enough. Without them, Charlie might not be here. We might not have the happy little boy we have today. I want to say thank you a million times over.”

Laura is saying thank you in a very real way this April when she runs the Reading Half Marathon. As well as finding the training positive for her physical and mental health, Laura says “I wanted to be able to give something back. I didn’t even realise Thames Valley Air Ambulance was a charity before they helped Charlie and now I want to do anything I can to help.”

Charlie has been told about what happened to him when he was a baby and is currently taking on the SCAS ‘outrun the ambulance’ challenge on his bike, accompanying Laura on her training runs.

Laura wants to share her story with people and let people know that emergencies can happen to anyone, any time. “If one person takes a first aid course because of this, then that’ll be worth it”, she says, “nobody expects they will ever need Thames Valley Air Ambulance. I certainly never thought we would.

“It’s not worth thinking about what might have happened had help not arrived so quickly that day. But it is so important for me to raise awareness and funds which might mean another family like ours receives vital care when they need it most.”