Ambulance worker slams Hillsborough emergency response

Ambulance man Tony Edwards arrives to give evidence to the Hillsborough Inquests
Ambulance man Tony Edwards arrives to give evidence to the Hillsborough Inquests
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An ambulance officer has told a jury he was the only emergency response personnel on the pitch at Hillsborough.

Tony Edwards was in the second South Yorkshire Ambulance Service vehicle to go onto the pitch when he got to the Sheffield Wednesday stadium at about 3.35pm.

Today he gave evidence at the Hillsborough Inquests into the deaths of 96 fans for the second day.

He told the jury that he and driver Alan Vevers had been told to go onto the pitch by deputy chief ambulance officer Alan Hopkins.

But he said as he made his way there he was stopped by a police officer.

He said: “A policeman came to the door and said that we couldn’t go onto the pitch because they were still fighting.

“Mr Hopkins said he didn’t give an F who said we couldn’t go onto the pitch.

“He wanted to get on there and didn’t want us to stop and he lent across and put on the two tone horn.”

Mr Edwards said as the ambulance drove onto the pitch, to the Leppings Lane end, fans banged on the sides and shouted for it to stop.

He was asked about his impression of the emergency response on the pitch.

He said: “Well, there wasn’t a response. It was just me.”

The court was shown footage of Mr Edwards on the pitch in which station officer Paul Eason could also be seen, but Mr Edwards said he hadn’t seen him on the pitch.

He said: “I was looking for somebody to liaise with, but that was very clear - there was nobody there - and then when someone came up to the side of the ambulance I made a decision to get out.”

“From the moment I got out of the ambulance, there were people making demands of me, people who understood the situation were wanting oxygen, defibs, a doctor.”

The court heard three casualties, including victims Victoria Hicks, 15, and Stephen O’Neill, 17, were loaded onto the ambulance and two police officers, an off duty nurse and two spectators, including Victoria’s dad Trevor, also got on to the vehicle.

Mr Edwards said he expected a senior officer to stop the ambulance before it left the ground.

He said: “There were lots of thoughts going through my head, one is that I knew I couldn’t cope with the amount of people that were in the ambulance, so I thought that we would be stopped at the gym entrance.”

He also told the court he was surprised not to see senior officers at the Leppings Lane end.

He said: “It was very clear that there was something very major happening and I’d seen ambulances arrive and senior ambulance officers at one end of the pitch, but where the incident was, there was nobody there at all, other than me.”

He said it went against the ambulance training.

When asked what he learnt from that training, he said: “That the ambulance service has a rank structure, and senior officers would take control of a major incident.

“I knew those senior officers were there, but they weren’t in control of that major incident.”

The three casualties in the ambulance were taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital and Mr Edwards said he returned to the ground and assisted with casualties in the gymnasium and gym yard.

The jury heard Mr Edward has made an allegation of a cover up by SYMAS after the disaster.

In a statement made recently he said he heard Chief Ambulance Officer Albert Page say: “We got away with that,” in a discussion about the findings of Taylor Inquiry into the disaster,

The court heard Mr Page denied the claim.

Mr Edwards said: “I think that they were remiss in investigating Hillsborough properly and that then led to a cover up.”

He added: “I would have said it 20 years ago had I had the opportunity of saying it.”

The hearing continues.