A British paramedic recalls the carnage of the London bridge attacks, with civilians and police alike “screaming for help” after the terrorists began their campaign of chaos.
29-year-old Gary Edwards, who was the first paramedic on scene, remembers having a “gut feeling” about the incident as he arrived- something far more sinister than an initial report about a drunk driver.
“Someone ran towards me to ask for help,” he recounted. “As this happened, 10 gunshots went off behind me. It was very close –maybe 40 yards. I didn’t know if it was the police firing the guns or the enemies, or a bit of both– an exchange of fire. At this point I felt unsafe. As soon as I heard the gunshots, I put my ballistic armour on. I didn’t have time for my helmet.
It was then that Edwards realized how vulnerable he was.
“People were running towards me,” he said. “I was worried someone was going to run towards me with a knife. I felt quite exposed. I felt like a target.”
When he began surveying the scene, it hit him like a ten-pound hammer.
“The police officers ran off and I followed them,” he said. “When I arrived, there was a sea of blue lights in front of me from the police cars. There were multiple patients lying on the floor, and lots of people running towards me as I parked up opposite the Post Office. I couldn’t get any further up because of the amount of people and police cars. There were 10 to 15 people lying all over the pavement and in the middle of the road. I was being approached by lots of members of the public and police officers screaming for help. At that part of the bridge I was the first paramedic on the scene.”
According to The Guardian, Edwards was one of 80 paramedics who went to the site of the attack. At the time, he claims he was running on adrenaline and was back at work 14 hours later.
“I felt the training I had received, due to the specialist area I work in, definitely helped. It allowed me to go into automatic mode and decide what the right tactic was to use in that situation. I think we did very well and the patients were seen very quickly. I think lives were definitely saved,” he said. “I can say that hand on heart. From the actions on the bridge – training people early and extracting people early – it made a huge difference. Working in central London, you have always got it in the back of your mind that it could happen at any point. I volunteered for the role. I was preparing to deal with something like that one day. When it does happen, it still takes you by surprise.”
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