First nurse on scene of Shoreham air crash tells of race to help victims

A volunteer immediate care nurse has described being the first medically trained person on the scene of a devastating air crash in West Sussex over the weekend.

Shoreham plane crash

British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) vice-chair Tony Kemp was already at the air show in Shoreham on Saturday assisting the British Red Cross with crowd cover.

The Kent-based nurse consultant in emergency pre-hospital care witnessed the aftermath of the crash in which a vintage Hawker Hunter jet flew into cars on the A27 while attempting a stunt manoeuver.

After arriving at the scene he was joined by two off-duty GPs and the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECamb) in attending to casualties.

Mr Kemp and one of the GPs went first to the cockpit of the downed jet where they provided life-saving care to the pilot, Andrew Hill, before moving to Lancing College where the walking wounded had been taken.

Speaking afterwards Mr Kemp said: ‘This was a horrific incident and many people witnessed what was a quite disturbing sight and a much lesser number were more immediately involved in the aftermath at the crash site.’

Many spectators were unable to leave the air show grounds for many hours and several paid a visit to Mr Kemp for advice after having not been able to take important medication.

Victims who survived the horror were taken to Royal Sussex County Hospital while those with more minor injuries went to Worthing Hospital.

A spokesman for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH), which oversees Royal Sussex County, confirmed it had declared a major incident at 2pm on the day of the crash.

This meant additional nurses and doctors were put on alert to be required at short notice; although fortunately in the circumstances only two patients were admitted during this time and the major incident alert was stepped down a few hours later.

In his Monday address to staff BSUH chief executive Matthew Kershaw said: ‘The local population is in shock and the repercussions will be felt for a long time to come and I would like to add my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

‘The emergency services plan and rehearse for this type of catastrophic incident on a regular basis but it is extremely rare for that preparation to be tested to the degree it was this weekend.

‘I was in touch with the control centre myself and have heard, from many of those who were on site, that our response was exceptional.

‘Everyone involved, clinical and non-clinical, responded with quiet and calm efficiency and raised their game to ensure we were ready to receive what could have been a very high number of very seriously injured casualties.

‘Major events do invariably bring out the best in people and our response this weekend is a reason for us all to be very proud of BSUH and our staff. My enormous thanks to everyone involved.’

Meanwhile, the relatives of Andrew Hill, the pilot who was flying the Hawker Hunter jet who is currently in a critical condition with multiple injuries, have added their own tribute to medical staff.

A statement released via the Sussex Police force said: ‘[The family] send their prayers and heartfelt condolences to the families of all those affected at this difficult time.

‘His family pay tribute to the emergency services for their highly professional response following the accident and to the medical team at the Royal Sussex County Hospital for the care they are continuing to provide to Andrew.’