An air ambulance doctor today praised the bravery of the medics and civilians who rushed to help the victims of the Westminster terror attack.
Dr Tony Joy, of London’s Air Ambulance, was first on the scene with a fellow doctor and advanced paramedic when the charity helicopter landed in Parliament Square.
Junior doctors and nurses ran from St Thomas’s hospital to tend to the injured and dying on Westminster bridge while junior doctors’ leader Jeeves Wijesuriya helped treat the attacker New Palace Yard.
Dr Joy, 35, a consultant at the Royal London hospital, told the Standard: “I was aware that there were a number of people who had come to help. Absolute respect to all the clinicians and all the passers-by that were involved. Some people would have done that completely instinctively.
“They would have wanted to help and they would not have known how much of a risk they were putting themselves in. That to me takes real bravery and should be profoundly commended.”
He told told how he and his LAA colleagues prepared for a “mass casualty event” as they prepared to land. A total of 68 London Ambulance paramedics and emergency staff were also involved.
“We understood we were going to a road traffic collision with about 20 patients,” Dr Joy told Sky News. “That obviously focuses the mind. We prepared for a mass casualty event and thought about what that might entail.
“As we were overhead we could see that it was a complicated clinical scene over some distance over the bridge. We tried to gather some information but there wasn’t much clinical information at that time. We were there very early.
“When we arrived on the scene, our job is to provide clinical care to the most critically injured patients but also with incidents like this to support London Ambulance Service in setting up the strategic control of a very complicated major incident.”
The charity, which needs about £4 million a year to keep its two helicopters flying, has been inundated with more than £10,000 in donations overnight as people pay tribute to its work.
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Dr Joy said it was a “pretty awful day” but a “privilege” to have been able to help people at their greatest time of need. “We prepare for it but we don’t expect it to happen,” he said. “It certainly focuses the mind.
“Our patients are very vulnerable. They didn’t expect it but they are having their worst-ever day. It is humbling to be involved in helping on the worst day of their lives.”
Ambulance chiefs today paid tribute to frontline staff for “an exceptionally good job” as they treated the victims.
LAS medical director Fenella Wrigley told the Standard: “Yesterday was something we always hoped would never happen, but which we were prepared for. We were able to provide specialist teams trained to respond to this type of incident.
“The staff did an exceptionally god job. They were calm and provided very good clinical care. I remain very proud and grateful to our staff for all they did under extremely difficult circumstances.”
Jon Goldie, a LAS paramedic manager who co-ordinated the response on the scene, said: “There were a variety of injuries. We quickly looked to establish where all the patients are who is the sickest and who needs immediate transfer to hospital.”
Malcolm Alexander, chairman of the LAS Patients Forum, said: “The London Ambulance Service was on the scene fast and LAS staff carried out their difficult tasks in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, providing Londoners and those visitors injured in the attack support and assistance.
“We wish to praise and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of London Ambulance Service on this most difficult of days and salute their dedication and service.”