Hillsborough jury told pitch was like ‘battlefield’

Ambulance on the pitch at Hillsborough.
Ambulance on the pitch at Hillsborough.

Hillsborough football ground was a like a ‘battlefield’ the jury at the fresh inquests into the tragedy heard.

Jurors were read a statement written by the deputy chief ambulance officer for South Yorkshire at the time of the tragedy.

Alan Hopkins said he was in charge of supervising the ambulance response at the 1989 FA Cup Semi Final at which 96 Liverpool FC fans died.

In his statement, Mr Hopkins said when he got on to the pitch, people started grabbing at him and shouting at him to help.

He said the scene was like a ‘battlefield’ - there were people lying on the pitch, and fans behind the fence with their faces pressed up against it.

Mr Hopkins said his role was to supervise the ambulance operation.

The jury was shown footage of Mr Hopkins running towards the Spion Kop end, behind fans carrying a casualty on an advertising hoarding.

He said he went into the gym, where it was ‘chaos’ and there were already bodies laid on advertising boards.

A total of three ambulances went on to the pitch. The others assembled in the yard so they could be loaded with casualties and driven to the nearest hospital.

Mr Hopkins said those at the Penistone Road end of the ground didn’t realise what was going on at the other end of the pitch.

The jury also heard oral evidence Mr Hopkins gave to the 1990 Taylor Inquiry.

Mr Hopkins said he asked for the major accident vehicle to be brought to the ground because there was no doubt in his mind it was a ‘serious matter’.

He said his priority was to get casualties to the nearest medical centre in the shortest possible time and added that all three emergency services were ‘absolutely clear’ of what their position should be when they arrived at the ground.