Team reunited with Turkey cliff fall patient!

This is the moment the Flight Medic UK team were reunited for the first time since the repatriation of patient Russell 9 weeks ago.

Ex-Pat Russell’s plight started after a fall in Turkey, where he was seen in the emergency department, was discharged and with a degree of ongoing confusion, fell down a cliff at the edge of the sea, landing on a ledge. After extensive work by relatives in the UK, locals, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Interpol, Russell was located & rescued by local fire services and following 72 hours of exposure, seen again in the Emergency department. Following discharge Russell was admitted to a care facility near the hospital to help with the confusion.

Limited local hospital resources compounded the head injuries that resulted from the fall & friends and family in Turkey were concerned that Russell was not receiving the care that was required whilst in the care facility.

Russell’s Sister, Deni had contacted Flight Medic UK 24 hours before Russell was found on the cliff ledge and so already had a briefing on the ongoing situation.

James Picks up the story “Having been contacted by Deni for our assistance in repatriating Russell we became aware that the level of care he was receiving  appeared not meet all of Russell’s needs.  Part of any repatriation mission planning is to understand the current situation using available medical notes and making an informed decision as to the best method of repatriation. Unfortunately we did not have that luxury, and having been made aware that Russell’s care was probably not meeting his needs we mobilised a team to the resort.


On our arrival it was clear that Russell was clearly lacking mental capacity, appearing very confused, with Russell believing he was on a cruise, & not able to make any decisions for himself. Roger and I made a ‘best interest decision’ based on years of experience, knowledge and awareness of the ongoing situation that it was in Russell’s best interest to be in the United Kingdom. We worked closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to obtain Russell’s passport and after convincing Russell that he was no longer on a cruise we repatriated Russell back to the UK on the next available flight where he was admitted to St. Georges Hospital, London. After a series of tests and investigations spanning 3 weeks it was later found Russell had been suffering from auto-immune encephalitis, essentially where the body’s own immune system attacks the brain.”

Russell is making slow but steady progress and his treating doctors are hopeful of recovery in around 12 months time.

Flight Paramedic, Roger Linnell, who has completed a number of missions for Flight Medic UK, having had 30 years National Health Service emergency experience, 18 of those as Unit Manager at the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance said that he was felt immensely privileged to be able to meet with Russell now that some of his ‘real’ personality was shining through.

Operations Director, Nick Ginnever, said “This is fundamentally what we do – reunite families when the odds are against them. The team are in no doubt that had we not acted as quickly as we did the outcome would likely have been undoubtedly undesirable.”

Russell is accompanied in this picture by his sister Deni.

This is the moment James and Roger were reunited with Russell