Ambulance boss tells of ‘awful’ radios hindering Hillsborough disaster response

Hillsborough Football Stadium Disaster, Pic: Rex Features
Hillsborough Football Stadium Disaster, Pic: Rex Features

Problems with communications - including ‘awful’ radios - affected the ability of paramedics to respond to casualties at the Hillsborough disaster, an ambulance boss has said.

Trevor Dale, who was divisional superintendent of operations for South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service, said he felt his staff had done a good job in dealing with the tragedy but could have given an improved response if their radio equipment had worked properly.

Giving evidence at the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground in 1989, Mr Dale said: “We would have probably performed better had we had better communications.”

Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquests, told Wednesday’s hearing there was a delay in picking up radios that would permit individuals to communicate direct with each other. She said when they were collected they were few in number and not all fully charged.

Mr Dale said the radio system had been ‘awful’ on the day of disaster.

He was on duty but not initially at the ground when the crushing problems started on the Leppings Lane terraces. He arrived at the ground around 3.25pm and started marshalling ambulances arriving and leaving the stadium.

Mr Dale said when he went to the ground’s gym, where casualties were being taken, he was ‘shocked’ by what he saw.

He said: “What I saw were the number of people. The number of fans laid out on the gym floor. That sort of were the first time that it really struck onto me how many people were sort of seriously injured - it just struck me that there was a lot of people, a lot of bodies, fans, on the floor. There were also people administering first aid and working on people, but there were also a lot of people just laid out on the floor.”