A former ambulance service officer told inquest jurors he was warned his head would be ‘on the block’ if the 999 service’s response at the Hillsborough disaster was a failure.
Former Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer David Jones, who worked for South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service, was not on duty on the day of the mass crush at Hillsborough football stadium in April 1989 but arrived to help out after seeing the tragedy unfolding on TV.
He said he met with his bosses, Chief Ambulance Officer Albert Page and Deputy Chief Alan Hopkins, and claimed Mr Page told them both: “If we’ve made a success of this I’ll take all the credit as chief.”
But he said Mr Page warned the other two their heads would be ‘on the block’ if the service’s response to the disaster was unsuccessful.
The jury heard that Mr Page disputed the account.
Mr Jones told jurors the ambulance service dealt with around 200 casualties and 93 dead fans in around 90 minutes on the day of the disaster.
He said he thought the ambulance service response was ‘exceptionally fast’ on what he described as a very fast-moving disaster, that developed rapidly.
“I never saw anybody hindering anybody. I thought the supporters themselves were actually marvellous with what they’d done,” he said.
He described the scene when he arrived at the stadium as ‘chaotic’, with thousands of people, fans and police milling around, but not many service vehicles.
The jury heard He recalled seeing eight or nine bodies stacked up against railings, covered with coats and plastic sheeting and a cordon of police officers stood in front.
Mr Jones said he saw an ambulance being loaded with around 15 casualties.
“It looked as though the vehicle was just crammed full and there were people hanging on the handrails on the back doors,” he said.