Lisa Michell

Airlifted Date: 
6th May 2012
Airlifted From: 
Nature of Incident: 
Severe Barbeque Burns

Lisa was attending a family barbeque in May 2013 when an explosion left her with such serious burns she needed treatment at a specialist hospital in Swansea. Cornwall Air Ambulance got her to this expert treatment centre in a fraction of the time it would have taken by road.

Lisa Michell was taking a well-earned break from her job as Headteacher of Ladock Primary School, attending a family barbeque and enjoying the excellent Bank Holiday weekend weather.

Steve, Lisa’s husband, recalls the day: “Lisa was stood next to the barbecue when suddenly there was a massive explosion.”

Lisa suffered severe burns in the accident and the land ambulance crew who were first on-scene called for the air ambulance.

On arrival the Cornwall Air Ambulance crew found Lisa had suffered 40% burns. Her injuries covered the whole front of her body. Around 15% of the burns were full thickness burns – the most critical type of burns, where all layers of skin have been burnt away and the nerve endings damaged.

After assessing Lisa’s injuries the crew knew her best chance of survival would be at the specialist Burns Unit at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital.

Steve remembers: “I was also injured in the accident, although nowhere near as badly as Lisa. Just as I was being led out to the ambulance I heard the air ambulance overhead. It was at that moment I knew Lisa would get the best possible chance of survival.”

Before taking off for hospital the crew cooled Lisa’s burns by bathing her in tepid water. Enroute they used special gel packs to cool Lisa’s skin, aiding in pain relief and preventing the burns causing further damage to Lisa’s tissue. Her pain was so acute that other pain control measures were needed, including Morphine.

The flight to Swansea took just 45 minutes – a journey that would have taken around 4 hours by road.

Steve said: “The speed with which they were able to get her to the care she needed meant she was able to survive her injuries.

“I am convinced that the speed of Cornwall Air Ambulance and the expert care given by the crew – combined with the specialist treatment at Swansea – ensured she survived.”

On arrival at Swansea a specialist burns team was standing by, ready to receive Lisa and provide the expert treatment she urgently needed.

Within weeks Lisa was able to return closer to home, initially to the Derriford Hospital burns unit, and then to her home near Truro.

Steve said: “After the accident I was able to email in to the Cornwall Air Ambulance to say a big thank you to everybody for everything they did to enable Lisa to still be here.

“In many ways life is now returning to normal and the most important thing for us as a family is that our two children - who were 3 and 1 at the time of the accident - have still got their Mum.”