Liverpool

Hillsborough volunteer medic: Ambulance 'not seen for 30 minutes'

The Hillsborough disaster Image copyright Inquest handout
Image caption Ninety-six fans died following a crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final

A senior volunteer medic at Hillsborough has told an inquest he did not see an ambulance on the pitch until 30 minutes after the match was stopped.

Peter Wells, who was in charge of 33 St John Ambulance first aiders at the FA Cup semi-final, has been giving evidence at the new hearings.

He described how he tried to feed cylinder oxygen into fans' mouths as they were crushed up against a fence.

Ninety-six people were fatally injured on 15 April 1989 at the Sheffield tie.

Questioned whether he had seen any members of South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (SYMAS), Mr Wells replied: "I never saw any of the ambulance service until later on when I saw their ambulance on the pitch.

"That's the first time I saw any of the ambulance service that I recognised."

The jury has heard the match was stopped by a police superintendent between 15:05 and 15:06 that day.

Jo Delahunty QC, representing Hillsborough families, said the first SYMAS ambulance drove on to the pitch at 15:37.

'Desperate trouble'

The jury heard Mr Wells, Divisional Superintendent in the St John Ambulance at the time, was managing the volunteers on the day, some of whom were as young as "ten or twelve".

He told the Warrington hearing he noticed fans starting to climb over the fence at the front of the Leppings Lane terraces before the match had begun.

He said: "The first thing I noticed was people crushed against the fence with their faces going blue.

"They were obviously in trouble, they couldn't breathe. They were just in desperate trouble."

He told the jury he grabbed a girl but could not lift her due to the "pressure of people holding her".

Mr Wells said he realised they could not get the fence down, so he ran to an ambulance to get an oxygen cylinder.

"I turned the oxygen on and attempted to feed it through to the people who needed it", he said.

The court heard the face mask didn't fit through the fence, so he "just fed the tube through".

Fans 'fantastic'

Mr Wells also helped give CPR to some of the casualties and drove two to Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.

Praising the efforts of police officers, he said: "They managed to pull part of the fence down and it was obvious you can't do anything with the casualties until you get to them."

In a statement he made after the disaster, he also said the "conduct of the Liverpool fans who assisted was fantastic".

Christina Lambert QC, who asks questions on behalf of the coroner, asked about his impression of the response by the ambulance service.

Mr Wells said: "I never saw them."

Jenni Richards QC, representing SYMAS, pointed out Mr Wells himself had explained he was "focussed for much of the time on the assistance" that he was giving to casualties rather than the location of ambulance staff.

The witness was thanked by Ms Delahunty on behalf of the Hillsborough families she represents for his team's actions during the disaster.

Her remark was echoed by Pete Weatherby QC, who represents a group of 22 families who lost loved ones.

The inquests continue.


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