When Prince William’s air ambulance team scrambled in March 2017, details given to the team were scarce.
The crew was expecting minor injury, but within moments of landing, they were fighting to save the life of a seriously injured young child after being hit by a car.
While William was careful in his podcast not to recognize the baby, the parents of Bobby Hughes, who was five at the time of the accident, last night told The Mail on Sunday that they believe it has to do with their brave boy.
In his strongest intervention yet in the mental health provision controversy, William reveals how the trauma of Bobby’s condition has stayed with him and, weeks later, sends him into a state of deep distress.
I went to this job. And it wasn’t very far. Our max was 15 minutes. And that was the great thing – you get the plane out as fast as you can. It was a short distance.
I still remember the crew on board, my great companions. We had a paramedic, a doctor and another pilot fly with me. And the call we get is very short and not very detailed. So we were expecting a minor injury case.
While William was careful in his podcast not to recognize the baby, the parents of Bobby Hughes, who was five at the time of the accident, last night told The Mail on Sunday that they believe it has to do with their brave boy. Pictured: William’s appearance on Time to Walk
It immediately turned out that this young man was in serious trouble, unfortunately, he was hit by a car. And of course, there are some things in life that you really don’t want to see.
And all we cared about at the time was fixing this boy. And the parents are very hysterical, as you can imagine, screaming and wailing, not knowing what to do, you know, and in real agony. This will live with you.
But our team got to work, they stabilized the boy, and then it was about getting him out of there to the hospital. All this happened very quickly. And we had the patient there in less than an hour. It gives the patient the best chance of survival.
I came home that night very upset but not noticeably. I wasn’t crying, but I felt like something had changed.
I felt a kind of real tension inside me. And then, the next day, we’re back to work, you know, a different crew. to the next job.
And that’s the thing, you’re not always together.
So you can’t spend a day treating it.
‘So, you kind of have a reluctance to talk about it because you don’t want to get attached to each other. You, you don’t want, you know, to burden others. You also don’t want to think, “Oh, is it just me? Am I the only one who’s really affected by that?”
After some time, the emotional impact of Bobby’s ordeal sent William into a state of psychological distress. “It really hit me after weeks,” he recalls.
After some time, the emotional impact of Bobby’s ordeal sent William into a state of psychological distress. “It really hit me after weeks,” he recalls. Pictured: Bobby Hughes and his parents
It was as if someone had put a key in a lock and unlocked it without me giving permission to do so.
It felt like the whole world was dying. It’s an unusual feeling. You just feel like everyone is hurting, everyone is suffering.
“And that’s not me. I’ve never felt like that before. My personal life and everything was perfectly fine.
I was happy at home and happy at work, but I kept looking at myself, and going, ‘Why do I feel like this?’ Why do I feel so sad?
‘And I’m starting to realize, in fact, that you take people’s trauma home, people’s grief, and it affects you. But I can’t explain why I realized what was happening because a lot of people don’t.
And this is where you can slip unnoticed into the next problem.
I think it’s hard to understand what you haven’t been through.
I was fortunate enough to have someone to talk to at work in the air ambulance because the mental health where I was working was so important.
It certainly helped to talk about these posts, share them with the team and eventually, in one case, meet the family and the concerned patient who has recovered, albeit not fully recovered, but recovered.
“This definitely helped.”
William attended the scene during his time as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service between March 2015 and July 2017. After four years of scrambling to help Bobby, William says he has memories of the day.
“It even makes me very emotional now,” he says. When they come and say thank you, and there it is. Is it okay.’ It’s… you know, it still affects me even now.
“But I think, as a human, when you see someone in such dire circumstances, basically at death’s door, you can’t help but be moved by that.”
His very personal experience puts his recent work – to raise awareness of the mental health of emergency service workers – in context.
His very personal experience puts his recent work – to raise awareness of the mental health of emergency service workers – in context. Pictured: William in a photo used in the Time to Walk . campaign
During an event at Kensington Palace last month, the Duke said he had found cases of children difficult to deal with since becoming a father.
His eldest son, Prince George, was three years old when Bobby was injured.
Speaking to emergency care assistant Chloe Taylor and paramedic Will Parrish at the event, William said: “In air ambulance, any job I went to with children really affected me, a lot more than I think if I didn’t already have children.
So, for me, the relationship with my personal life was mainly with the family or with the incident I was in – I found that very difficult.
There were a number of times I had to take myself away because I was so involved and I feel like it.
“And then I’ll go talk to someone else after the event, which is really important, but it goes on, it doesn’t really leave you there – you just manage it better.”