The Race Against Time to Save Hannah

12 May 2023 | Expected time to read: 3 minutes

Sometimes, all it takes is a few seconds for a child to be involved in a life-threatening accident. That’s what happened to 12-year-old Hannah back in 2022. 

A talented cyclist, Hannah was competing in a State Championship Road Race in Sydney’s South when the unimaginable happened. Her mum Jessica still finds it incredibly difficult to describe the terrifying sequence of events.

“The race was on a 2.5km loop of asphalt road through a bushy, National Park area. As spectators, we only saw the riders for a brief time each lap before they disappeared into the bush.

“After the first lap, Hannah was in the top five riders. But when the riders came around the corner for the second, I saw there were only three of them coming. As they approached us, I heard them screaming that there had been an accident.

“I noticed Hannah was missing and my first instinct was to run through the bush to find her.”

When Jessica eventually reached Hannah, she found her little girl lying unconscious, with severe injuries.

The Garmin watch Hannah was wearing recorded that she was travelling at 44kms an hour when she accidentally clipped the rear tyre of the cyclist in front of her and was thrown from her bike. The impact was equivalent to being hit by a car.

Less than 20 minutes after her accident, Hannah was in an ambulance and on her way to Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick under lights and sirens. When she arrived, a team of specialists were ready and waiting to treat her. That was vital, as her condition remained critical.

Aside from a serious head injury, Hannah had severe lacerations on her face, torn ligaments in her shoulders and a mysterious pain in her hip. Tests cleared her of any bleeding on the brain, but it took longer to identify the cause of the pain in her hip. An x-ray eventually discovered she had suffered perforations in her bowel.

With that mystery explained, Hannah’s doctors began putting a plan of action into place. Jessica can’t speak highly enough of the expert and experienced multi-disciplinary team who cared for Hannah over the following days.

“We were so happy to be in the hands of the best specialists and consultants. Because she had so many injuries, Hannah was supported by so many different people. She had plastic surgeons, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, as well as the specialists who were treating her brain and bowel injuries.

“It’s important we shine a light and support the incredible staff, services and programs available at the hospital that can save kids’ lives. It’s because of the excellent care we received, that we were able to go home on day eight, much earlier than expected. Hannah has made a remarkable recovery.”

The skill and experience of the team who provided emergency care to Hannah on that day was vital to her survival and recovery. A Critical Care Simulation Program, supported by Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, plays a key role in helping the Emergency Department doctors, nurses and paramedics prepare for such critical cases.

The simulation program provides authentic opportunities to practice treating children like Hannah in those crucial first moments after an accident. Jane Ciccero, Nurse Lead Simulation in Emergency Services at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick explains why the training is so important.

“These programs give people the chance to put their knowledge into action. Actions like resuscitation can be a pretty stressful experience. Simulation gives people a chance to build their knowledge and skills.

“By reducing stress in an emergency situation, you can give the patient better care in a timely manner. And when you’re more effective as a team, there’s a better chance of having a good outcome.

“Our ultimate goal is always to get the kids home healthier. Being better prepared for real-life situations through simulation goes a long way to helping with that.”

By supporting Sydney Sick Kids Appeal this tax time, you can help give sick and injured kids like Hannah the best chance of getting back to their ordinary childhood – because every child in hospital is a childhood on hold.

Your tax deductable donation to Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation will go directly to the frontline of children’s healthcare and help support world-class clinical care.

Donate to Sydney Sick Kids Appeal 2023 to make a difference today.

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