Off-duty firefighter who helped at A9 crash site slams police conduct

AN OFF-DUTY firefighter who helped treat A9 crash victims has made a formal complaint about the “unprofessional” conduct of police at the scene.

AN OFF-DUTY firefighter who helped treat A9 crash victims has made a formal complaint about the “unprofessional” conduct of police at the scene.

Andrew Parker was travelling from his home in Devon to Orkney with friends when he was caught up in a fatal crash between a van and coach near the Highland village of Newtonmore.

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Mr Parker said he and his friends helped casualties for more than an hour only to be accused by officers from Northern Constabulary of “interfering”.

The 40-year-old worked with the fire brigade in London for 14 years and attended major incidents including the Brixton nail bombing and Paddington rail disaster.

He told Northern Constabulary in his letter of complaint: “I am disgusted with the unprofessional manner of your officers.”

The accident, on 8 June, claimed the lives of two men from Glasgow and left around 40 injured.

Mr Parker, who was with fellow members of his diving club, Darren Guest-Williams and Al Barclay, witnessed the crash at around 3:40pm.

From just three cars behind the coach he saw a cloud of paint on impact. He said: “I said to the others we should go and help because we were all first-aid trained. They went to help the passengers in the coach and I went to the van.”

In the van he discovered the bodies of painters and decorators Mark McFarlane, 38, and Barry Murray, 28.

Mr Parker and his friends turned their attention to injured passengers on the bus, who were on their way to the Rockness music festival near Inverness.

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They prioritised them according to their injuries and tried to reassure and calm the driver who was trapped in his seat.

When paramedics and fire crews arrived on the scene 20 minutes later, Mr Parker was able to brief them about the situation and he offered to continue dealing with the passengers to allow them to concentrate their efforts on the coach driver.

According to Mr Parker, both the paramedics and the firefighters appeared to be “happy” with this arrangement. However, when police arrived Mr Parker said his efforts were shunned.

He said: “The officer tried to shoulder us out of the way even though we were still treating people at the time.

“I tried to explain to the officer that we had prioritised them in order of seriousness and there were some that should not be moved. But he was not interested.

“He even tried to move the three more serious casualties – despite one not being able to walk.”

Mr Parker said he was then told that he was “interfering”. He added: “ I was shocked that the police would speak to someone like that, especially when there were a good 20 vehicles on that stretch of road and nobody got out to help.”

In his official letter of complaint to Northern Constabulary Chief Constable George Graham, Mr Parker wrote: “Considering both the ambulance and fire crews were happy with what we had done, and left us to continue… I find it astonishing we should be told that we were interfering.

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“I would hope that you would highlight to the officers concerned the importance of using resources presented to them rather than dismissing them.”

A Northern Constabulary spokesman confirmed the complaint had been received, but would not comment further until the full circumstances surrounding the incident had been established.