Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance was called out when Shena Kozuba-Kosubska suffered multiple injuries after a riding incident.

Shena Kozuba-Kozubska lives in the small village of Donhead St. Andrew near Shaftesbury and is well known nationwide for her success as an International horse trials competitor and trainer.  On August 11th 2016, she had a serious riding incident whilst out exercising a young but placid horse.

I was two minutes out of the gate of my home when I pulled off the road to let a car pass.  I remember turning to wave the car by but that’s it, no other recollection at all.

Apparently one of the villagers was on his way to a funeral and found me lying in the road. No-one saw what happened and we can only try and guess what the circumstances were; it may have been a noise, a dog or the car that frightened him. What is certain, is that my injuries were extremely severe and possibly caused by the horse falling or trampling on me. He had no signs of injury and was not upset by any of the events.”

The first thing I do remember is regaining consciousness in Salisbury District Hospital four weeks later. I had been in intensive care in Southampton Hospital for two weeks and then a further two weeks in the intensive care high dependency unit at Salisbury District Hospital as it was closer to my home. I spent an additional month in Salisbury District Hospital; a short spell on the Amesbury Ward and the rest on the Clarendon Ward.

It was once I was transferred to the Clarendon Ward that my recovery really began.  The staff were amazing and the ward is right on the edge of the most wonderful place, ‘Horatio’s Garden’. It’s named after Horatio Chapple, who was the son of my surgeon and volunteered at the hospital in his school holidays. Tragically, Horatio was killed at the age of 17 by a polar bear whilst on an adventure holiday.

Being able to have access to the garden to help with my rehabilitation was definitely a key part of my recovery. It is designed for people in wheelchairs and has an abundance of flowers which come out at different times of the year.

I was determined to get home. However the hospital wouldn’t let me go until I could walk up a very steep set of stairs to the spinal unit. Within two months of having my incident, I managed to do it with the help of crutches. Although I think my recovery has taken ages, my doctors and physios are very pleased and almost astounded by the improvements I’ve made. Although I will not ride again, I am so lucky to be alive and still able to teach.

I have now seen the list of my injuries which included a broken wrist, scapula and clavicle, left renal artery dissection, a subarachnoid bleed, a break to my left acetabulum (the socket of the hip joint), many breaks to my thoracic and lumbar spine and an unstable L3 vertebra. I broke most of my ribs and suffered a bilateral flail chest (when a segment of the rib cage breaks due to trauma and becomes detached from the rest of the chest wall). I also suffered a haemopneumothorax (collapsed lung caused by air and blood leaking into the chest) and a pneumomediastinum (air leaking into the space between the two lungs, around the heart and the large vessels coming out of the heart). So as you can imagine, I am very lucky to be alive!

The work of the ambulance service paramedics and the air ambulance crew who came to my aid on that day was truly amazing. My aim right now, is to hopefully gain a place in the London Marathon 2020 and run in aid of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. Without them, I wouldn’t be here!”

Ten months after coming out of hospital, Shena paid us a visit and how lovely it was to see her looking so well!


Dr, Rob Török, Claire Baker and pilot Max Hoskins were working on the air ambulance that day.  With Shena’s kind permission, Claire provides us with a little more detail…

When we arrived, our Ambulance Service colleagues were already on scene. They had requested our assistance as Shena was likely to need critical care interventions and enhanced pain relief. When we got to her side, it was clear she was critically unwell with a broken arm and shoulder, many broken ribs and a life threatening chest injury. She was conscious but in a lot of pain therefore we administered a strong pain reliever which also provided some sedation to help with her discomfort.

The paramedic who had arrived on scene before us had put a needle into Shena’s injured chest to prevent her lung collapsing. We now needed to advance her treatment, move her to the aircraft and get her to the right hospital as quickly as possible. We quickly gave her an anaesthetic and inserted a chest drain which enabled us to take control of her breathing. This would give us immediate monitoring of both her lung inflation and developing chest injury.

Shena was flown to the regional trauma hospital in Southampton under anaesthetic. During our flight to hospital, she became more unwell with a drop in her blood pressure. This gave us concern as it meant that she could quite possibly have internal bleeding. In flight, we declared a ‘code red’ to the hospital and on arrival were met by a large trauma team who were on standby with units of blood ready to administer (we now carry blood on board the aircraft and can administer this at the scene or during the flight to hospital).

After handing Shena over to the team in the Emergency Department, she received an immediate blood transfusion, a further assessment and a fast chest X-ray. The X-ray showed that a section of her fractured ribs at the back of her chest were pressing onto her heart causing it not to beat as effectively.  She was rushed straight to theatre where she had life-saving chest and abdominal surgery.

It is amazing that Shena has made such a good recovery, able to share her story and come back and visit us; what a remarkable lady!

If you've been inspired by Shena's story and would like to help us to continue saving lives, we would be grateful to receive your donation. No matter how big or small, every penny donated really will make a big difference! Thank you.

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