A nurse working as an immediate care volunteer was first on the scene at the Shoreham air show crash, when a vintage aircraft came down on a nearby road.
Tony Kemp, a highly experienced pre-hospital care nurse, witnessed the immediate aftermath of the 1950s Hawker Hunter jet crashing onto the A27 dual carriageway while coming out of a loop during an air display on Saturday.
“This was a horrific incident and many people witnessed what was a quite disturbing sight”
He was already at the event in West Sussex, where he was working for the British Red Cross and also acting as a volunteer first responder with the British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS).
As a member of the BASICS South East Coast Immediate Care Scheme, he was called to attend the injured and was the first clinician on the scene.
He was joined by two off-duty GPs and subsequently by an air ambulance crew and other emergency workers.
He said it was immediately obvious there were a number of deceased casualties, while some “walking wounded” had been taken to a former pub nearby, which is now part of Lancing College.
Mr Kemp split his medical response equipment between himself and his GP colleagues, one of whom was dispatched to the ex-pub to provide medical care and assessment.
Meanwhile, Mr Kemp and the second GP took the bulk of his emergency kit to the remains of the aeroplane’s cockpit, following reports from fire-fighters that the pilot was alive.
“I would ask that individuals who have such photos and videos consider very carefully the ramifications of sharing these images with anyone, particularly on social media”
Working about 10 meters from the aircraft’s engines, which remained on fire, they gave immediate lifesaving care to the pilot before his treatment was transferred to an air ambulance team.
Mr Kemp and the GPs then worked with other emergency services to provide care to patients at the ex-pub and at the airfield’s main Red Cross treatment centre, where he said “sterling work” was being done by volunteers caring for those physically and emotionally affected by the crash.
Mr Kemp, who is vice-chair of BASICS and a nurse consultant in emergency pre-hospital care, 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.
“My medical colleagues and I were so impressed with the resilience and professionalism of the Red Cross volunteers, as well as the generosity and assistance offered by those at the ex-pub,” he added.
However, Mr Kemp also said he witnessed a small number of bystanders roaming the site in the initial aftermath of the crash filming with their mobile phones.
He said: “Many found this behaviour quite grotesque and outrageous. Unfortunately [it] is a modern curse at the scene of many accidents
“I would ask that individuals who have such photos and videos consider very carefully the ramifications of sharing these images with anyone, particularly on social media,” said Mr Kemp who was awarded an MBE in 2014 for services to pre-hospital emergency care.
At least 11 people are thought to have died in the crash, according to latest reports from the police – three of whom have been named so far.
In a statement issued today, Sussex Police said: “The number of highly likely dead remains at 11, but may rise. However, we do not expect that figure to be greater than 20, probably fewer.”
A separate statement has also been issued today on behalf of the family of Andrew Hill, 51, the aircraft’s pilot. He is in a critical condition and is being treated at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.
“Andrew Hill remains in critical condition. He has multiple injuries and is in a medically induced coma,” said the statement.
“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,” it added.