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A call I will never forget

“Meeting schoolboy Nicholas Green a year after treating him for a serious head injury was an unbelievable feeling,” says ER24 East Metro Branch Emergency Care Practitioner, Kurt Maske. “From being in a critical condition – to spending four weeks in an induced coma in ICU,  Nicholas has made an almost complete recovery.”

When it comes to treating critical patients, ER24 paramedics who perform emergency life support in the pre-hospital setting seldom know the final outcome. “Once the patient is admitted to hospital, we often lose touch and don’t know whether they survived, succumbed to their injuries or made a full recovery,” Kurt says. “Seeing and chatting to Nicholas more than a year after the accident was unbelievably inspiring. He has definitely made a positive impact on my life and I am excited to see where life takes him. To know Nicholas is making such enormous strides is remarkable.”

Kurt was off-duty when he fielded the call about a serious motor vehicle collision in March last year. “It was during rush hour morning traffic at a busy four-way intersection in Franschhoek and I was the first EMS on the scene,” he says. “A truck had T-boned a car and while the truck driver was uninjured, the driver of the car was trapped in the vehicle – and her passenger, a schoolboy, was having seizures in the front seat.”

The driver was the schoolboy’s au pair, and although she suffered cracked ribs, was conscious. “She was stable so I focused all my attention on the boy, who had hit his head on the side window and had suffered a traumatic brain injury. Thankfully he’d been wearing a seat belt but he was in critical condition. I took his vital signs and although I immediately administered drugs to stop the seizures, they continued unabated. I had to intubate him on the scene before the ambulance arrived and took him to Mediclinic Paarl.”

After numerous brain surgeries, Nicholas was discharged from hospital at the height of the first Covid-19 surge to recuperate at home. His father, Jeremy, ensured he had the best possible care, with a team of nurses, physiotherapists and rehabilitation specialists, cooks and drivers offering ongoing support. “When he first got home, he couldn’t walk, read or write and he didn’t know where he was,” Jeremy recalls. “It took about seven weeks before he would walk and talk again – and he continues to make progress. I’m not sure what the outcome would’ve been if Kurt hadn’t been on the scene so quickly. We are so incredibly fortunate and grateful that the stars aligned.”

Today Nicholas is back at school and performing well on the sports field. “It was a very special moment meeting the man who saved me,” Nicholas says. “It was quite dramatic – a very emotional, exciting moment.”

And for Kurt? “It was astounding listening to Nicholas’s curiosity about the accident – and chatting to him about his passion for cricket,” he adds. “It really was quite unbelievable – and one of the many reasons that make my job so rewarding.”