‘No concerns’ over medical plan for SAS selection march where three men died
Two men, known only as 1A and 1B, are on trial over the deaths of the reservists on the Brecon Beacons in 2013.
No concerns were raised about the medical plan for a 16-mile march in the Brecon Beacons in which three reservists died, a board heard.
Two SAS soldiers, known only as 1A and 1B, are on trial by court martial over the deaths amid high temperatures in July 2013.
They deny “negligently performing a duty” by failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of candidates on the march.
Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, Lance Corporal Edward Maher and Corporal James Dunsby died as a result of the exercise.
A medic referred to as 1H told the Court Martial Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire that he had prepared the medical plan for the march.
He passed this to senior medics on July 12 – the night before the march – and no issues were raised, 1H said.
The plan flagged heat illness and dehydration as a risk, with Wet Bulb Globe Temperature checks one of the mitigating factors for this.
Wet Bulb Globe Temperatures, which take into account factors including humidity and wind, reached 31.2C on that day.
Medic 1H said readings were shared around medics working on the march, and another nearby, through a WhatsApp group, but not to 1A or 1B.
During the exercise, 1H was based at checkpoint one – where the command vehicle, directing staff and 1A and 1B were stationed.
At 12.46pm, the “man down” alarm was activated for a candidate referred to as 2P. He had collapsed about 1.2 miles from the checkpoint.
Prosecuting, Louis Mably QC told the board 2P was “medically withdrawn on the grounds he was suffering from heat illness”.
“Did you report your findings to 1A or 1B?” Mr Mably asked 1H.
1H replied: “His temperature was normal so I told them it might be due to the weather. It would have been 1A or 1B but I can’t remember which one.”
When asked if he raised any concerns about weather conditions after 2P was medically withdrawn, 1H said that he did not.
“I think it was down to the first person I saw,” he told the board.
“If his body temperature had been raised I feel like I would have, but his body temperature was normal. Everybody knew it was going to be hot.”
Representing 1A and 1B, Mathew Sherratt QC asked: “After 2P, at no stage did you advise or suggest there be a reassessment?”
1H replied: “No, that was simply because of his body temperature.”
The board heard it was two hours later, at 3.36pm, when the “man down” alarm was activated for L/Cpl Roberts.
He was found unconscious just 1.5km from the finish and pronounced dead there by emergency services at 5.10pm.
At 4.10pm, L/Cpl Maher was identified as a “slow-moving candidate” and he was discovered dead at 4.55pm.
Cpl Dunsby was noticed to be static at 4.10pm and was found unconscious at 4.52pm. He died in hospital on July 30.
1H said he had not read Joint Service Publication (JSP) 539, the policy for preventing heat illness and cold injury in the armed forces.
“We sort of knew about it but I never actually read it,” he told the board.
Thirty-seven reservists and 41 regular troops took part in the exercise, which was part of the aptitude phase for selection on a special military unit.
1H said he handed his medical plan to two reservist medics, referred to as 1U and 1T, during a handover the night before the march.
Mr Sherratt asked: “At any stage did the medics for the reservists raise any issues with (their) candidates?”
1H replied: “No they didn’t. I spoke about a couple of my own, but not theirs.”
The march was 26km or 16 miles as the crow flies – though those taking part were expected to cover almost 30km or 18.5 miles – and had to be completed in eight hours 45 minutes.
Candidates carried a bergen, a backpack, weighing between 22 and 27kg as well as a dummy rifle.
The five-strong board has been told that previous inquiries have identified systemic failings.