A CODE Crimson is only announced in the most life-threatening of cases and for Kyle Webb it was the alert paramedics gave to help save his life.
On August 26 last year, Kyle, then aged 15, was among a group of friends on a hunting trip at a property in Sofala, 45 kilometres north of Bathurst.
Searching for pigs, they suddenly heard one and Kyle got out of the ute and started walking away when he heard a gun shot.
For what seemed like a few seconds, he wondered who had fired it before he fell to the ground.
“I heard a gun shot and I just fell over I couldn’t feel anything below my waist. I couldn’t feel my legs,” he said.
“After a couple of seconds I came to the conclusion that I had been shot.”
I heard a gun shot and I just fell over I couldn’t feel anything below my waist.
Kyle remembers trying to stand, he couldn’t. He was also “in a fair bit of pain”.
A gun had accidentally discharged and shot him at close range, the shotgun shell hit him in the mid back just left of his spine.
He lung collapsed and he had major trauma to his organs and uncontrolled bleeding.
Following panicked triple-0 calls by those in the his group, Bathurst paramedics Lachlan Bullock and Christian Stokes were sent to the scene.
“He was critical when we got there,” Mr Stokes said.
“He kept apologising, but I was saying ‘you don’t have to apologise’.”
The next steps the two paramedics made were critical to Kyle’s survival.
“Our biggest challenges were location and resources just because he was so far out [from Bathurst]. Also, it was cloudy and misty,” Mr Stokes said.
Given the weather conditions a rescue helicopter was unable to land.
The only choice they had was to get back in the ambulance and drive the critically-injured Kyle by road to Bathurst Airport where they could meet the helicopter.
Before the helicopter took off, a Code Crimson was give to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead which meant there was a high-need trauma patient on the way.
The alert meant an operating room was cleared, surgical teams were readied and blood products were prepared.
Kyle spent eight weeks in hospital and these days not only does he have a significant scar to show off, but 23 of the 76 shotgun shell pellets remain in his body.
When he was shot just one pellet left his body, and while doctors removed 52 pellets, they said it was too risky to remove the remainder.
Kyle said his health has improved significantly, but he was still not “back to normal”.
“I’m not quite 100 per cent in every respect, but I’m fantastic,” he said.
A mother’s perspective
KYLE’s mother Dawn Webb was 300 kilometres away when she received a panicked phone call to say her son had accidentally been shot.
“I don’t think I breathed properly for five hours until I got to the hospital. It was terrifying,” she said.
“I was told his situation was extremely grave and to prepare for the worst.
“It’s the phone call that no-one wants to receive.”
Ms Webb said it took her son months to recover following his eight-week hospital stay.
I don’t think I breathed properly for five hours until I got to the hospital. It was terrifying.
“He was discharged on October 17, and he turned 16 on October 18,” she said.
Ms Webb said the amount of lead still within her son remains a concern to his treating doctors.
“The lead poisoning in his blood is very high,” she said.
“It’s a watch, wait and see for the future.”
Ms Webb said she was “eternally grateful” to the two paramedics who saved her son’s life.
“We know that the actions of these two men kept my son alive,” she said.
“They kept him in the best possible condition for handover to the next vital stage of his care on the day.”
Paramedics recognised for their service
Recently, Mr Bullock and Mr Stokes received a NSW Ambulance Commissioner’s Commendation for Service for their work while helping Kyle.
NSW Ambulance Superintendent Brad Porter praised the two “highly trained paramedics”.
“Often we do our best and it’s not good enough, but on this occasion they did their best and it was a good outcome,” he said.
“I don’t like to put this down to luck, I like to put this down to their training.”