Episode 6 Real Rescues


Episode 6

Nick Knowles presents the painstaking rescue of a 16-year-old girl at risk of paralysis after a car crash. Also, fire crews are called out to save a paraglider in an oak tree.


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Transcript


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Imagine turning up for work every day knowing you could face a life-or-death situation.

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That's what it's like for the men and women of the emergency services.

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They often have to put their lives on the line to save us.

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This is Real Rescues.

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Tonight, a 16-year-old girl suffers a broken back in a car crash.

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One false move by the paramedics and her spine could be severed.

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If she wasn't treated very carefully, she'd never walk again.

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The firefighters are called to a treetop rescue.

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A paraglider clings on to branches 70ft up.

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Any movement by him to try and climb down would result in

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possible broken neck, possible death.

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Animal rescuer Jim Green can't believe his ears...

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Got called to a snake in a car.

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..or his eyes.

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It's an 11ft python stuck halfway in a wheel arch.

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An emergency call has come through to traffic cop Tony Flatman.

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RADIO CHATTER

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We're on our way to this RTA in Langstone,

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they're calling for the fire brigade to cut one of the people out.

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It's a head-on collision close to the marina on Hayling Island.

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-Hello, Phil. You all right?

-We'll get Sam to do a road closure.

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Local police are already on scene and gathering information.

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The young driver of the blue Renault misjudged a 90 degree bend

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and ploughed straight into the Rover coming the other way.

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RADIO CHATTER

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John Bailey, the driver of the Rover,

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is on holiday with his wife's parents

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and they were in the back seat of the car.

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Luckily, none of the people in John's car has any serious injuries.

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The other driver and two of the youngsters in his car are also fine,

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but it's a different story for 16-year-old Charlotte.

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You're doing well there, Charlotte.

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My back really hurts!

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Paramedic Dick Tyne is calling the air ambulance

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after finding a lump on Charlotte's spine.

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I've got a 16-year-old female, middle-seat passenger

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with just a lap restraint in a Renault Clio,

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with a quite a bit of deformity on a frontal impact.

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She's actually got quite pronounced seat-belt burn marks

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on both sides abdo, and she's got back pain.

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Now, we're on Hayling,

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and it's gonna be a bit of a lumpy journey to get her off.

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The accident's in a remote spot,

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so the air ambulance is needed to transfer her to hospital safely.

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Heli Meds are scrambling.

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Although Charlotte's lap belt has given her some protection,

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it's not as protective as the more usual three-point seatbelt.

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The actual impact with a lap belt

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tends to throw the whole of the body forwards,

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placing a lot of strain on the lower back, the spine.

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We've got the chopper coming down to take her up to QA.

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We need some way of getting her out

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with the least possible aggro to her back.

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When we examined the patient

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we found she had what we call a step in the spine, a lump.

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'Now, this shows the vertebrae are now out of their alignment,

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'and there is pressure on the spinal cord that runs down the middle.

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'If you move it fractionally more,

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'that can cut that spinal cord completely.'

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If you do that, they will be paraplegic at the very least.

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This day out was part of the driver's birthday celebrations,

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but it's turned into a day

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which could change the future for this teenager.

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-We've got him marking it.

-Yeah.

-We get the others to do glass.

-Yeah.

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-And then we go from there.

-Good-o.

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Mark, can you sort something out on glass management?

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Crew manager Nev Lewindon and his team

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decide that they will have to cut the roof off the car

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before Charlotte can be freed.

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Before they can start cutting, the car must be stabilised.

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Any sudden movement

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could have disastrous consequences for Charlotte.

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Paramedic Joe Robb is inside,

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monitoring her for any change in her condition.

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Now the car is stable, the fire crew can cut through the post

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and windscreen to take off the roof.

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It's a noisy and frightening ordeal for Charlotte.

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The next step is to get her safely out of the car without allowing her to move at all.

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It's going to take all the expertise of the emergency services

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to save Charlotte from permanent paralysis.

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In a few minutes we'll see

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as they start the crucial lift out of the vehicle.

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Imagine heading off to a beautiful hillside, taking your own flying machine out of your rucksack,

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and then silently lifting off into the sky.

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Around 5,000 people go paragliding regularly.

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It's a great way to see the countryside in peace and quiet.

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However, a sudden drop in wind can change all that.

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SIREN WAILS

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We'll be right there.

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An emergency call comes in to Dorchester Fire Fighters.

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It's an accident that's not exactly run-of-the-mill.

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This paraglider pilot is in a very dangerous position.

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He's hanging on to the topmost branches of a 70-foot oak tree

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and no-one knows how long the branches will hold his weight.

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It's going to need advance rescue skills to get him down.

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Incident Commander Dave Cooper and one of his expert climbers from the Special Rescue Unit

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are immediately on their way to the scene in the police helicopter.

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We've had people trapped up trees before,

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but in this incident, the person is right on the very crown of the tree.

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The immediate danger is the casualty will slip and fall.

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On a large tree like this, the branches are not all uniform,

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as it would be on a building or a tower crane.

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How safe are the branches? Are the branches rotted through?

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Any movement by him to try and rescue himself or to climb down

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could easily have resulted in him falling out of the tree,

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which would result in broken bones,

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possible broken neck, possible death.

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The plan was I would climb the tree

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with two lines attached to me,

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setting up safety systems as I went up the tree.

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The plan then was to attach the lines I had attached to myself to the pilot.

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He would be lowered to the ground by the people on the ground.

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So the plan is in place. And when Bob reaches paraglider Roy, he's a welcome sight.

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Roy is clinging on to the branches for dear life.

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He's as high as a four-storey building.

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I knew we had to be quite quick,

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to actually get up there and secure him

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to make him feel safe and reassured.

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They've completed the first stage of the rescue, but Roy is far from home and dry.

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It's vital that he does exactly what the experts tell him if he's to get down in one piece.

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Rescuer Bob is now in the crown of the tree

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Dave and Ben are in the lower branches, controlling things from below.

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Bob's attached to the tree.

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-He understands that both are going on him?

-Yeah.

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They've rigged up a pulley system which will be operated from ground level.

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Now Bob just has to get the rescue harness on securely and he's ready to go down.

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-Can you ease the line without getting your fingers trapped cos there's a lot of friction?

-Yeah.

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Got that leg down.

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It's a long way down. Fortunately, Roy is able to help himself in this rescue.

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The lower branches could do him some damage, but he is able to push his way through them.

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-If we come in through that tree, through to you, Ben...

-Yeah.

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With everybody watching, including his children,

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his relief is as apparent as his embarrassment.

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You have to send me to hospital(!)

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< Daddy!

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Daddy's down now.

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-Just smile this way.

-Yeah, thank you very much.

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About six foot, Bob!

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The teamwork has paid off and Roy is back to earth,

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and even his paraglider has survived without a tear.

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But suddenly, there is one member of the family who can contain himself no longer.

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It's Leonardo, the Gordon Setter, overjoyed to see his master back on earth.

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Once safe, Roy recalls how he ended up perching in that tree for nearly two hours.

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I've been flying beats which are just laps up and down the ridge here.

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Heading off along the ridge, I must have hit a pocket of cold air

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and obviously suddenly lost a bit of altitude,

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at which stage my feet managed to hit the top of one of the tree canopies,

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causing the wing to overfly me and me to fall into the oak tree.

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But for the expertise of the specialist Fire and Rescue Unit, it could have been very different.

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Without the backup of our safety systems, there's a very good possibility he'd slip and fall.

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Back on Hayling Island, the emergency services

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are fighting to save 16-year-old Charlotte from paralysis.

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She's trapped in the back seat of a car following a head-on collision.

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Paramedic Dick Tyne has a plan to get her out whilst keeping

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her spine completely immobilised.

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What we'll do, see this thing here, it's a special flexible board

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to put behind your back and strap you to it, all right?

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Once that's done we'll get you a special board, the helicopter will have landed,

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we'll get you on there, and go off up to hospital.

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OK. All you've got to do is relax and keep nice and still.

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'Myself and Joe my colleague decided to use a KED,

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'which stands for Kendrick Extrication Device.'

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To think of it as a girdle, which straps not only the torso

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but the legs and the head.

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'So you can immobilise someone to this before putting them on to a spinal board.'

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The Air Ambulance has just arrived.

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It's ready and waiting to take Charlotte to hospital.

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This young man here is Chris, a friend of mine, he is in the chopper crew.

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All right?

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He's gonna have a little feel down your back,

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and see the bump you've got. OK?

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Chris confirms Dick's fears about Charlotte's spinal injuries.

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He then gives morphine to ease the pain.

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'When we give pain relief, we've got to be very careful

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'so that it doesn't mask your symptoms,

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'because if I anaesthetise you at the scene,

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'I've got no way of ascertaining,'

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whether anything I'm doing is causing any problems

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with the injury you've already got.

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'We gave her enough to relax her slightly.'

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Just enough to take the edge off it.

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Despite her pain, Charlotte is managing to be very brave and calm.

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Meanwhile, traffic cop Tony Flatman

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needs to know how severe her injuries are so he can manage this case correctly.

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Dick grabs a moment to update him.

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I'm not that concerned about the internal injuries

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at the moment because she's not showing any signs of bruising.

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But the main concern is her spine. Yeah.

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It makes a difference to our investigation who we call out, how far we take it,

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whether we're going to be calling crash investigation units,

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scenes of crime, photographers.

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It's the critical moment when Charlotte must be got on to the long board.

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It takes the combined skills of all the emergency services,

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11 people in all, to carefully edge her out of the car wreckage.

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The blocks immobilise her head and neck.

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The foil will be wrapped around to prevent her body temperature from dropping.

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She's out, and Dick's doing his best to put her at ease.

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This is nice and warm now. Wrap you in paper foil, Gas Mark 6, you'll be done in no time!

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On a scale of severity, although it wasn't life-threatening,

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if you put life-threatening into another bracket,

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it was the worst injury you could possibly suffer,

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especially at that age in life.

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It had the certainty that if she wasn't treated

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very, very carefully, Charlotte would never ever walk again.

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Two, three, lift.

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-Charlotte?

-Yes?

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You're going to go in to the aircraft now, into a bit of a tunnel,

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-when you come out the other end, I'll be sat next to you, OK?

-See you later.

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In just five minutes, the teenager will be in hospital where they can fully assess her injuries.

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If she's damaged her spinal cord, it will mean life in a wheelchair.

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But if it's only the spine itself which is fractured, the prospects are much brighter.

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We'll be talking to Charlotte as she starts her recovery.

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The ambulance service often provides a lifeline to older people,

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always there in case of emergencies,

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but it's wrong to think of their most senior patients

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as the most frail. They may need extra help every so often,

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but they're sometimes the most resilient

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and independent characters, as you're about to find out.

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It's a bright, sunny day,

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and ambulance crew Graham Collins and Gail Inman are on their way

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to help a 94-year-old who's had a fall at a country park.

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Rita Tasker had been enjoying the sunshine with her sister-in-law, Doreen,

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when suddenly she found herself the centre of attention,

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something she hates.

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She's fallen and hit her head, so Doreen's called 999.

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Are you really fed up?

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I don't want to come with you.

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-How about if we just sit you in the ambulance...

-How about... Come on!

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-..have a little look, and go from there.

-Yes.

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We can't make you go anywhere.

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If I don't, she'll make me.

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I've got all her medicine things and everything else here.

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Thanks to everybody.

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Thank you.

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Rita's fallen down outside the tea room and has a nasty cut on her ear

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which needs stitches.

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All this fuss is more than enough for Rita - she doesn't want even more when she gets home.

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But Doreen's had other ideas.

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I hope nobody tells my kids, because they'll go mad.

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I've got to let them know, obviously, love. I must.

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Or else I shall be in trouble, you know that!

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You don't mind being in trouble for five minutes, do you?

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I'm not having that!

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Perhaps you won't tell Warren and Barry.

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-Oh, you will, big mouth, you will!

-I've got to!

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-I feel responsible for her.

-They won't like it very much,

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cos they'll say, "You should have stopped her falling!"

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-They will!

-So it serves you right. Your fault!

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They had a very strong relationship,

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I think, because they could say anything to one another

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and it wasn't taken the wrong way.

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We come down here a lot in the summer.

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I said, "We might be able to go down there if we wrap up warm."

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-So it's all your fault, then.

-No...

-Yes it is, it's all your fault.

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It was like a comedy double act. They were bouncing off each other.

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It's important to get to the bottom of what's caused Rita to fall,

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so Graham needs to get a sample of blood.

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Look, the doctors keep on taking blood, if you keep on taking blood, how d'you expect me to live?

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Where do you want it?

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HE LAUGHS I'll just take it off your finger. Little scratch coming up!

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-We only took a little drop.

-I feel all right now.

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You can keep the rest.

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If I thought you could go home, of course we'd let you. We'd even take you home, but we can't.

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After a lot of persuasion, she's on her way to A&E.

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It's a very common occurrence for us to turn up and old people

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not want to go to hospital. They're independent.

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A lot of these people have been through a lot of hard times.

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They won the war for us. They're hard characters, and they're not going to give up their independence easily.

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When she can get a word in edgeways, Gail's still trying to find out more about Rita's general health.

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There's certainly nothing wrong with her wit.

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What health problems do you suffer with, Rita?

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-What do I suffer with?

-Yeah.

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Boredom.

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DOREEN: Just before Christmas, she had a slight heart attack.

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Oh, for pity's sake! Oh!

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Gail's bandaging invites more good-natured banter from Rita.

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Do you know, I only had my hair done yesterday.

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I know, it's rotten, isn't it?

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It's not right, is it?

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So far, it's been a light-hearted call-out but suddenly, the mood changes.

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-I've got a pain in my chest now.

-Have you, sweetheart?

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-Eh?

-Have you got a pain there?

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Well, you know...

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Graham?

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No, I'm all right.

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If you've got pain there, we need to get you at least lying down.

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-No, I'm all right.

-Have you still got it there now?

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No, it's gone off again now.

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It's only where I had my coffee. Honestly, I'm all right.

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But Rita's not winning this time. Gail and Graham take the pain very seriously.

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I hope my sister-in-law's enjoying all this.

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I'm sure she's not. I'm sure it's the last thing she wants to see.

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I've always dreaded something like that might happen.

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Well, it hasn't, so you haven't got to worry, have you?

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You two are a pair, aren't you?

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Rita was at her ease. She had somebody with her who knew her

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that she could rely on, and it was a less threatening environment for her.

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Aren't you glad I'm your sister-in-law?

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You wouldn't have all this excitement if I wasn't.

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I don't know what I'm thinking at the moment, I can tell you.

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'Anybody that complains of chest pains, you have to take seriously

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'and I think at that point,'

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she realised that there was something else going on

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or potentially something else that was going on.

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Pain getting worse, is it?

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Yes, it is a bit.

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It's time to get the blue lights on and head for A&E as quickly as possible.

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Rita? I'm going to make a bit of noise going up there, all right?

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So don't be alarmed with me making lots of noise.

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Don't worry about me.

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Gail starts sending all details of Rita's test to the hospital emergency department.

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Graham's in no doubt that Rita's in the best place.

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It could have been quite innocent, but we had to eliminate all possibilities,

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make sure that there wasn't something more sinister happening.

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That's why she's in A&E - not just for the head injury,

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but for the possibility of something underlying that caused her to fall in the first place.

0:19:570:20:02

It turns out that it was absolutely the right thing to persuade Rita to go to A&E,

0:20:020:20:07

as we'll find out later.

0:20:070:20:09

Jim Green is on shift with the Hampshire Animal Rescue Unit,

0:20:220:20:26

when suddenly a call comes in that stops him dead in his tracks.

0:20:260:20:30

-PHONE: 'Hi, Jim. How are you?'

-I'm all right, mate.

0:20:320:20:36

Now, listen, I've got a call to a snake in...a car in Southampton.

0:20:360:20:41

Did he say a snake in a car?

0:20:410:20:42

-Apparently it's trapped in a car.

-'Sorry, did you say IN the car?'

0:20:420:20:46

In the car.

0:20:460:20:48

But it's not just any old snake.

0:20:480:20:50

It's a three-year-old, 11-foot-long albino python.

0:20:500:20:54

Not easy for a rescuer who's more used to handling livestock with legs.

0:20:540:20:58

Jim's going to need some help, so he's straight onto his colleagues for back-up.

0:20:580:21:02

Yeah, but it's trapped apparently.

0:21:020:21:04

Jim's tries the RSPCA for support but they're busy, so his next call

0:21:040:21:08

is to Anton Phillips, another animal rescue specialist.

0:21:080:21:11

'It'll be active, very active.'

0:21:110:21:13

Yeah. But I haven't really got anything to put it in, apart from the big dog cage.

0:21:130:21:18

He gets there to find the car parked by a pub close to the common.

0:21:200:21:23

It's packed with people enjoying the sunshine.

0:21:230:21:26

Although it's not venomous, this snake kills its prey by crushing,

0:21:260:21:30

and it could be a danger to the public.

0:21:300:21:33

HX Romeo Oscar One, over.

0:21:330:21:35

Danny, the snake's owner, called in when it started to disappear.

0:21:400:21:46

So what's the score, then?

0:21:460:21:48

Why are they in the car?

0:21:480:21:49

-Because we were going to the common to take them for a walk.

-Taking them for a walk?

0:21:500:21:56

Snake-walking is clearly a popular pastime for this family.

0:21:560:21:59

The back of their hatchback is their means of transporting the creature.

0:21:590:22:03

Every member of this family seems happy to be around snakes, large or not so large.

0:22:030:22:09

What's he like with the heat?

0:22:090:22:10

-Yeah, good.

-He's all right with heat, is he?

-Likes the heat, yeah.

0:22:100:22:14

-Is that the boy one or the girl? Cos we've got two.

-Right, OK.

0:22:140:22:17

That one's her.

0:22:170:22:19

Right... I think we'd better get Big Red Toolbox out here, actually.

0:22:190:22:24

Big Red Toolbox is Jim's name for the special equipment unit,

0:22:240:22:28

which will cut the car apart to get at the snake.

0:22:280:22:31

You can just see the python in right-hand corner of your picture.

0:22:310:22:35

The other half has disappeared into the bodywork of the car.

0:22:350:22:38

It found a hole in the boot, in the cowling, where you change your bulbs

0:22:400:22:44

for the rear light cluster,

0:22:440:22:46

and it had disappeared up through there into the skin of the car.

0:22:460:22:50

And then they tried to get the thing out, and all it had done is expanded.

0:22:500:22:54

It had contracted to get into this small hole, disappeared through about two feet and then

0:22:540:22:59

it had just expanded and was not something that you were going to be able to pull out.

0:22:590:23:03

We don't want him to come all the way through. We want him to back-up.

0:23:030:23:06

That's it, yeah.

0:23:060:23:07

-But that's going to be tricky...

-He can't go no further anyway.

0:23:070:23:11

You haven't tried pulling him out, have you?

0:23:110:23:14

We tried pulling him out but he keeps like squeezing himself forward.

0:23:140:23:17

He would because animals like to go forwards rather than backwards.

0:23:170:23:21

Let me get a special equipment unit on the road...

0:23:210:23:23

Suddenly, Jack the snake is on the move.

0:23:230:23:26

He's trying to come back, mate.

0:23:260:23:29

Hang on. He's probably better to try and see if he'll do it on his own.

0:23:290:23:34

He's coming back out.

0:23:340:23:36

It's an astonishing sight - 11 feet of snake reversing out of a hatchback's wheel arch.

0:23:360:23:42

I don't know. I'll tell you in a minute.

0:23:420:23:44

Right, we've got to be careful he doesn't hurt himself now.

0:23:440:23:48

He's trying to come out on his own now.

0:23:480:23:51

He's gone in the boot of the car... Oh, he's coming out. That's good.

0:23:510:23:56

-Good boy!

-It's all right. I'll give you a ring back in a minute.

0:23:560:24:01

Oh, he's out!

0:24:010:24:02

The family are overjoyed to have Jack the snake back with them.

0:24:020:24:06

He's soon in Danny's arms, getting the once-over for any injuries.

0:24:060:24:10

He's not been damaged at all?

0:24:100:24:12

'As the snake was withdrawing itself, I was a little bit concerned

0:24:160:24:20

'that it would damage itself'

0:24:200:24:22

on the metalwork, because its scales are positioned so that

0:24:220:24:25

it goes through nicely forwards but they were starting

0:24:250:24:28

to get a bit hooked up as it was coming out, so I was concerned it was going to damage itself.

0:24:280:24:33

But, fortunately, there was no problem there.

0:24:330:24:37

-And that's Jill, is it?

-No.

-No.

0:24:370:24:39

Jill's...this other one.

0:24:390:24:41

-OK. So Jill's at home?

-Yeah.

0:24:410:24:44

Thank you ever so much.

0:24:440:24:46

So there you go.

0:24:460:24:48

Must've been your talk that got him out. Your little talk.

0:24:480:24:52

Yeah, he's lovely, isn't he? Lovely.

0:24:520:24:54

This Burmese python is still only half-grown.

0:24:540:24:58

He could get up to 25 feet long.

0:24:580:25:01

People in the snake pet industry don't recommend a Burmese python as your first snake.

0:25:010:25:07

They are quite a handful, they do eat a lot and they have been known to be unpredictable.

0:25:070:25:12

It's not every day your snake gets stuck in the boot of the car, is it?

0:25:140:25:18

How's his...?

0:25:180:25:21

Beautiful.

0:25:210:25:23

Jack's causing quite a sensation in the car park, and even Jim wants his own photo of this one.

0:25:230:25:29

Jim will probably never have a rescue like this again.

0:25:290:25:32

So all's well. Jim can now stand down the special equipment unit, the car's still in one piece,

0:25:320:25:37

and Jack the python and his family can get on with their walk in the park.

0:25:370:25:41

-This is normal, is it, bringing him out for a walk?

-Yeah.

0:25:410:25:45

-Fantastic.

-Let him run round in the sunshine.

0:25:450:25:47

All the kids like it. It's not very often you see a big snake.

0:25:470:25:50

-No, certainly not.

-It's certainly been a rescue to remember.

0:25:500:25:53

-Are you taking that thing in swimming?

-Well, he is.

0:25:530:25:56

If they let us put him in, yeah.

0:25:560:25:59

Thanks a lot.

0:25:590:26:01

Legally, a python is not classed as a dangerous wild animal, so the family are quite free

0:26:010:26:06

to take the snake out, so long as it's under control.

0:26:060:26:09

Time to update you on the other people featured on tonight's Real Rescues.

0:26:170:26:21

Charlotte, the back-seat passenger in the car accident

0:26:210:26:24

DID break her back,

0:26:240:26:26

but luckily, her spinal cord wasn't damaged.

0:26:260:26:30

However, she did need surgery.

0:26:300:26:32

Has it? Where's it been hurting?

0:26:320:26:34

At the bottom here.

0:26:340:26:36

-Down here?

-Yeah.

0:26:360:26:37

'They put this plate in and they said'

0:26:370:26:40

that's to secure it and then, back in November,

0:26:400:26:43

when they take it out, hopefully it's healed

0:26:430:26:47

and they won't do any damage more,

0:26:470:26:49

but they did say I'll have to just be very careful what I do and stuff like that.

0:26:490:26:54

It shouldn't have any proper long-term damage.

0:26:550:26:58

They said it wasn't far enough up the back.

0:26:580:27:00

It was quite low down, luckily, so that was quite fortunate.

0:27:000:27:04

Roy the paraglider pilot who got stuck 70 feet up when he crashed into a tree -

0:27:080:27:12

well, there's no keeping a good man down.

0:27:120:27:15

As soon as Roy could rescue his paraglider,

0:27:150:27:18

he was back in the air again.

0:27:180:27:20

I'm pleased to say I've not been involved in anything else since then.

0:27:200:27:23

I intend to just enjoy my flying from here on in.

0:27:230:27:26

Leonardo, no doubt, will spend a few more hours watching his master in the sky.

0:27:260:27:31

As for Rita Tasker, she's back out and about again with her sister-in-law, Doreen.

0:27:340:27:39

She did suffer a very mild heart attack after her fall

0:27:390:27:42

and needed five stitches for the cut on her ear.

0:27:420:27:45

'Perhaps I refused to grow really old.'

0:27:450:27:47

Perhaps that's it. I don't know.

0:27:470:27:50

All the while I can do these things, I must do them.

0:27:500:27:53

As for her son and family, they're happy for her to stay just the way she is.

0:27:530:27:57

Ask anyone of the family, and it would be 100% in agreement.

0:27:570:28:02

She's very, very stubborn.

0:28:020:28:03

Very difficult at times.

0:28:030:28:04

We love her to bits, but we still say very stubborn,

0:28:040:28:07

and I think sometimes that's maybe what's kept her going.

0:28:070:28:10

Join me next time for more of the fantastic work

0:28:130:28:16

from the men and women of our blue-light services

0:28:160:28:18

when we're back on call for Real Rescues.

0:28:180:28:21

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:340:28:39

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:390:28:44

Nick Knowles presents the painstaking rescue of a 16-year-old girl at risk of paralysis after a car crash. Fire crews are called out to save a paraglider hanging on for dear life 70 feet up in an oak tree, and the animal rescue specialists can't believe what they're hearing or seeing - an 11-foot snake is stuck in a car!


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