Kristin Hadland: I've seen a lot of grim sights, but I could not hold back the tears

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Looking through the lens at the sheet-covered body, I felt no emotion. It was just a subject I was filming, another patient for the paramedics I was shadowing to attend to. It was only when the blanket was pulled away and I saw the man's face that I realised this was more than a patient, it was a person. When I later watched the footage I had taken of the Cumbrian killer's victims back in the editing room, the tears began to flow.

It had begun as a normal day's filming with the North Yorkshire Air Ambulance crew. When the calls began to come in with reports of shootings and we were called to the North-West, all we were told was that there was someone in Cumbria shooting people. We were not even sure, at that point, whether we would be needed.

Despite the lack of information, we had a sense that we were heading into something big but we could not have known how major the incident had been.

The crew were simply told where to go next. On leaving we had heard that there were three victims. As we visited more and more scenes during the day, that number increased. Three had seemed like a major incident. We were not at all prepared for how bad it got.

In the towns of Egremont and Gosforth we found victims of the shooting spree. The atmosphere there was eerie. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day but nobody was outside and it was very quiet. After the paramedics found the body of Garry Purdham, I approached the landlord of the local pub. The training I have as a journalist told me to find out as much as I could. But, for one of the first times in my career, I could not bring myself to interrogate him.

He told me that Mr Purdham had been a family man and I could not find the words to ask the next question. Out of respect, and against all of my training, I left him alone.

It is just the luck of the draw which member of my team is filming a particular event. I have never been too badly affected and the paramedics themselves act with supreme professionalism throughout.

I have seen a lot of grim sights while working with the air ambulance crews. But I could not hold back the tears this time.

Kristin Hadland is the producer of the BBC 1 programme 'Helicopter Heroes'

Comments