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Hillsborough disaster: Doctor and Pc tell of reviving victim Tony Bland


Tony Bland was left in a persistent vegetative state after the Hillsborough tragedy

Tony Bland was left in a persistent vegetative state after the Hillsborough tragedy

Tony Bland was left in a persistent vegetative state after the Hillsborough tragedy

A doctor and a policeman helped revive the 96th and final victim of the Hillsborough tragedy on the pitch before he was rushed to hospital unconscious, a jury has heard.

The inquests into Britian's worst sporting disaster today focused on the movements of Tony Bland who was severely brain damaged in the 1989 crush but survived until 1993.

He was left in a persistent vegetative state and his life supporting treatment was removed at the age of 22 after a legal battle.

The then 18-year-old from Keighley, Yorkshire, entered central pen 3 on the Leppings Lane terrace with a friend at about 2.25pm ahead of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

His friend, Allan Gill, stated that the crowd "seemed to really tighten up" when the players came on to the pitch and that he heard screams and shouts from people that they could not breathe and wanted to be let out.

In evidence read to the court in Warrington, he said he did not see Mr Bland from that point on and that he eventually fell forward and was pulled through a gate.

Footage showed Mr Bland, wearing a red and white Liverpool FC hat, being lifted over a fence into pen 2 and then being carried on to the pitch by two police officers at about 3.23pm.

Pc Steven Plows and Dr Colin Flenley, who was at the ground as a supporter, gave evidence they thought Mr Bland had no pulse and was not breathing when they first attended him.

They eventually detected a heartbeat at 3.26pm after several rounds of heart compressions and Mr Bland was put into the back of a St John Ambulance at 3.33pm.

The jury was told there were already three casualties inside with one unconscious adult on the floor and that Mr Bland was placed on top of him.

Pc Paul Jenkinson told the court that he performed mouth-to-mouth on Mr Bland en route to Sheffield's Northern General Hospital and that the casualty began breathing as they arrived.

He said: "I am fairly sure it was before he went on the trolley because I seem to have got this feeling of relief that we pulled into the hospital and at that I point I was relieved that he was going to get some proper medical attention and that I had got him breathing at that point."

Dr Rani Naidoo, a senior house officer at the Northern General's gynaecology department on April 15 1989, went to assist in A&E after she heard "a number of sirens and ambulances coming up the hill".

She said she attended Mr Bland "because there was no other medical or nursing staff with him".

Dr Naidoo said she had not been told that a crush had taken place at Hillsborough and recalled an unidentified person telling her they thought a stand had collapsed at the match.

Hospital notes recorded Mr Bland as being unconscious on arrival and "unresponsive to painful stimuli".

Breathing was spontaneous but "laboured", it was added.

She said she judged him "stable" following her initial assessment and thought he did not require any further intervention at that point as his observations were "reasonable and satisfactory".

Christina Lambert QC, counsel for the inquest, asked her: "Did you believe that there was any need for steps to be taken to either secure Tony's airway or indeed to provide him with assisted ventilation?"

She replied: "I believe at that time my assessment was that his condition was stable. He was breathing by himself spontaneously."

In a previous statement she said she had inserted a tube into his mouth, the court heard.

She explained that was to protect his airway because he was deeply unconscious.

Dr Naidoo agreed a plastic airway would not have protected him from vomiting, as opposed to intubation where a tube is inserted to maintain an open airway for drugs to be administered.

Miss Lambert asked: "Do you think that it would have been prudent to have asked somebody, conscious that you could have intubated yourself, to intubate Tony to protect him from these risks?"

The witness replied: "At that point, no I do not think it was prudent to do that.

"Obviously what we did and how we managed patients then is different from now."

She said she did not believe she was mistaken in not intubating Mr Bland in A&E.

The jury was told that Mr Bland was first transferred on to a general ward for ongoing care at the Northern General, rather than the intensive care unit (ICU).

Asked if she was concerned that he was not transferred to ICU, Dr Naidoo said: "Well, it was a very extraordinary day. I was aware there was a significant number of extremely ill casualties in the A&E department, all receiving varying levels of care."

Mr Bland was later intubated and ventilated on the receiving ward by other clinicians before his condition deteriorated and he was eventually taken to the cardiac ICU.

At about 6pm it was noted that ventilation was "becoming harder" and emergency intervention was needed, the court was told.

The hearing was adjourned until next week.

The jury was told on Monday they would hear evidence from Dr James Howe who cared for Mr Bland at Airedale Hospital and an anaesthetist who would give his opinion on aspects of the hospital care and its possible effect on Mr Bland's condition.

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