How circus classes helped this Wolverhampton TV star paramedic overcome a serious chest stab wound
The mum-of-three says now she feels even stronger than she was before being stabbed.
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A paramedic who appeared in a TV show almost died after being stabbed during a call-out. But thankfully she has made a life-changing recovery - largely thanks to circus acrobatic classes.
Deena Evans, 42, was knifed in the chest by a patient armed with two blades as she carried out a welfare check in Wolverhampton on July 6, 2020.
The 8-inch knife pierced her uniform and punctured her lung. Deena says she wouldn't be alive if crewmate Michael Hipgrave, 51, hadn't stepped in to help.
Martyn Smith, 54, was jailed for nine years in April 2021 for wounding with intent after both Deena and Michael were brutally stabbed.
Deena, who starred in the TV show Inside the Ambulance, returned to work at West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) after vowing to continue with her job.
But she suffered from reduced mobility, PTSD and her confidence also suffered in the aftermath of the horrifying attack.
That was until she discovered The Jewels Academy, in Dudley, West Mids., which teaches acrobatic circus classes, two years ago.
Deena began going to lessons with her 15-year-old daughter and believes learning to perform with silks and aerial hoops has sped up her rehab by several years.
The mum-of-three says the new regime has helped her return to fitness and she is now even stronger than she was before being stabbed.
Deena now attends classes four times a week and is at an advanced level performing stunts on a trapeze, flying poles and tippy hoops.
She has now joked she would "love to run away and join the circus" but is too dedicated to serving as a paramedic officer with WMAS.
Deena, of Willenhall, West Mids, said: "I had been doing my rehab exercises each day but it was really slow going and repetitive. It was like going to the gym but I'm not really a gym person.
"I was just scrolling through Instagram one day and I saw these circus classes advertised and I just liked the look of it.
"I contacted Jade, who runs the classes, and made her aware of my situation and reduced mobility as I thought it might be a problem for her insurers.
"My muscles had all been taken apart, put back together again, so they were really weak and fragile, which had affected the nerves into my arm, around my side.
"But she was just like 'no come along and have a go'. I went along with my daughter who is a gymnast and immediately fell in love with it.
"I saw all these other people spinning on hoops and dropping down and I thought, I want to be able to do that.
"Within six weeks I was. I never looked back and it's just been life-changing for my recovery.
"There's no way I'd be at the recovery stage I am now without doing this. I'd still be doing my basic physio, struggling to change gear in the car.
"Three years ago, I sat at home crying, too scared to go to the shop and not being able to lift a kettle or dry my hair.
"The recovery would perhaps have taken five years, so to get to this stage in a couple of years is amazing.
"If anything I'm now stronger than I was before the incident. Its not only the physical side it has helped with, it has really helped me mentally to get my confidence back.
"Now I'm at an advanced level and I've always said I would love to join the circus."
Deena still does front-line work but is now mainly based at a hospital as a paramedic officer.
She said she "never once thought about leaving the job I love" despite the harrowing attack.
She added: "When I was lying on the grass after being stabbed I thought 'ok then, well this is the end'. To go from that point to this is incredible really.
"I've always thought why did what happened have to happen to me? It was the first time a paramedic had ever been stabbed on duty, which isn't a label you want."
Jade Marissa Flash, director at The Jewels Academy, told the BBC: "I just can't believe how far she's come. She's so strong. She's like a power woman."
Shocking bodycam footage released at the time showed the moment Smith lunged at the pair with two large kitchen knives.
Neighbours reported "blood-curdling screams" and the pair shouting "please help, he's got a knife".
Smith was tasered by police and arrested at the scene on Stephens Close following the attack which lasted just 12 seconds.
Deena spent three days in hospital following surgery while Michael was stabbed in the back and was discharged from hospital the same day.