“I’ve been told very few people survive a bull attack like that”

Nathan is pictured at the Air Ambulance NI base with wife Charlene, daughter Alyanna, son Jace, HEMS Dr Campbell Brown and HEMS Paramedic Philip Hay.
Nathan is pictured at the Air Ambulance NI base with wife Charlene, daughter Alyanna, son Jace, HEMS Dr Campbell Brown and HEMS Paramedic Philip Hay.

It was on a Sunday afternoon in May 2018, when Nathan Hawthorne’s day took a very unexpected turn.

Nathan, who is from Keady in Co. Armagh, was bringing a cow and bull along a laneway near his farm, when the bull suddenly turned to attack him.

Nathan attempted to remove himself from danger and run from the bull but unfortunately, he was attacked directly in the chest by the animal. The bull then pinned Nathan to the ground with his head and proceeded to try to crush his chest before forcing him through a barbed wire fence causing severe lacerations to his back.

Even though the bull had broken several of Nathan’s ribs and caused a number of other injuries, he remained conscious and was able to get up and walk across the farm to raise the alarm. He rang his dad, who was at the Scarva Game Fair at the time, who then called 999 and the Air Ambulance was tasked. Nathan’s dad and mum frantically tried to make their way back from the show and asked their neighbour Colin to go to Nathan on the farm, but by the time Colin arrived on the scene, Nathan was slipping in and out of consciousness.

The alarm had also been raised with Nathan’s wife, Charlene, who was 38 weeks pregnant at the time. She arranged for her mum to come and mind their little girl Alyanna, while her sister and brother-in-law drove her to the scene. Their journey was delayed due to a charity tractor run in the local area, which was coincidentally raising funds for Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI)!

Charlene, said: “Thankfully I made it to the scene in good time and was able to remain calm, despite seeing Nathan in pain and witnessing the extent of his injuries. I was also very mindful that I also had to think about our unborn baby too, so I tried everything I could think of to remain calm so that I didn’t go into labour. In the end, our baby boy Jace was born just two weeks later!”

The AANI team included HEMS Dr Campbell Brown and HEMS Paramedic Emma Boylan. Once they assessed Nathan, he was then transferred to Craigavon Area Hospital, where he remained for six days.

Speaking about the accident, Nathan said: “Immediately after the attack, the adrenaline set in and I was able to walk across the farm and call for help before the pain kicked in and I started to fade. I’ve been told that very few people survive a bull attack like that, so I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to get free. I would like to use this opportunity to strongly remind members of the farming community to take care and to make sure that they take the necessary precautions when working on farm as things can change in a matter of seconds.”

After his recovery, Nathan visited the air ambulance base in Lisburn to meet the team who had helped him on the day.

Nathan said: “I’m so grateful that the air ambulance team were there and were able to start my care right then on the farm before I was transferred to the hospital for further intervention. I was delighted to be able to visit the Air Ambulance base with my wife, the two kids, parents, grandparents and Colin who helped on the day.

“It was lovely to meet Dr Brown and to hear more about the fantastic work of the service and how it is helping so many people across Northern Ireland. The charity AANI, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), provides the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for the region.

“AANI requires £5,500 per day to keep this vital service going. You never know when it could be you, so I would encourage everyone to support the charity AANI in whatever way they can.”