Evening Express

Air ambulance diverted from treating Westminster attack victim, inquest told

The air ambulance was diverted from treating pensioner Leslie Rhodes in the wake of the Westminster terror attack.

Medics who had rushed to the retired window cleaner’s aid after he was hit by an SUV on Westminster Bridge were initially told that a team from the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) were on their way, but the crew was then sent elsewhere, the inquest into his death heard.

The air ambulance team had apparently been sent to the aid of PC Keith Palmer, who had been stabbed near the Palace of Westminster.

Passing doctor Gareth Lloyd said as soon as he saw Mr Rhodes he realised that his injuries were “unsurvivable”.

The 75-year-old was hit by a Hyundai Tucson driven in a murderous rampage by Khalid Masood, and dragged along the road for around 33 metres.

Leslie Rhodes died in the Westminster terror attack (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Paramedic Gary Moody told the Old Bailey: “We were still continuing treatment then by central control room I was informed they were with another patient who had been stabbed somewhere around Parliament.

“Since then I knew they landed in Parliament Square.”

Gareth Patterson QC, for the family, questioned whether it resulted in a delay in the “golden hour” for treating someone after they are injured.

He asked Mr Moody: “You asked for the help of HEMS, Leslie was a classic case for the very quick and significant assistance they can provide there on the road.”

The witness replied: “He would have been, yes.”

Mr Patterson went on: “You were told that they were on their way but later you were told that they were heading elsewhere and you asked ‘what about my patient?’”

The paramedic replied: “We had got to a point in Leslie’s treatment where we could do no more for him at the scene.

“I spoke to control room to find out what was happening. That was when I was informed they were being diverted to someone else.”

Mr Moody said a HEMS team could have administered an anaesthetic to Mr Rhodes on the bridge and performed treatment to assist his breathing, but that he did not know whether that would have been detrimental.

The patient arrived at King’s Hospital 10 minutes after the land ambulance left the bridge.

Dr Lloyd, an ear, nose and throat specialist, was walking over the bridge to see a patient at St Thomas’ Hospital when he saw Masood drive “erratically” onto the pavement and hit three pedestrians.

He went to treat Mr Rhodes because he appeared to be the most gravely injured.

Mr Lloyd said the pensioner appeared “unresponsive and needed immediate medical attention”.

“He was lying in a very crumpled, disorganised manner in the road. He had not tried to move from the position he landed in.”

He had suffered “an obviously life-threatening” head injury, the inquest heard.

“I recall thinking that this would be a significant injury for an adult of any age, for an older man the potential for significant life-threatening injury was severe.”

With help from a member of the public he laid Mr Rhodes on his back, and carried out a jaw-thrust manoeuvre to allow him to breathe. He was then laid in the recovery position.

The medic stayed with Mr Rhodes until he was admitted to intensive care in hospital.

He heard on the news later that the pensioner had died, but said he had been expecting the news.

“Probably from the moment that I saw his head injury on the bridge, and the age of Mr Rhodes, I felt that this was likely to be an unsurvivable injury.”