Christchurch mosque attacks: GP who aided victims inside mosque says pressure was 'off the scale'

A GP who was working a few doors down from the Linwood Mosque on March 15 was one of two doctors to help inside the mosque and says the intensity, pressure and tension was "off the scale".

As a result of that day, they now have a trauma 'grab bag' permanently at the practice, which they've had to use several times since to help people.

Piki Te Ora General Practice is just a few doors from where the Linwood mosque stood.

There were four nurses and two GPs working there on March 15.

Dr Graham Whitaker was doing paperwork when a colleague told him their building was in lockdown.

"A policeman with an assault rifle came to the door... he said that there had been a shooting and to stay inside," Dr Whitaker told the inquest into the mosque shootings on Monday.

"Some of the patients were getting anxious, we tried to reassure them and keep people away from windows and doors."

He advised police they could help and gathered equipment in preparation.

"I told him we were a medical centre and asked what we could do to help," he said.

"He asked me to go inside and said he would check with other officers."

Around half an hour after the shooting, he was escorted inside by armed police.

"I don't think the magnitude of the situation hit me until I saw the first two deceased people... on the driveway going into the mosque," Dr Whitaker said.

"I actually remember very quietly saying 'oh no' to myself, fighting the urge to run inside the mosque."

When he got inside, he was not only confronted with dead and injured, but also the peculiar sight of police with their faces covered.

"Near me were people in balaclavas working on a patient on the ground."

Dr Whitaker helped the injured and at the request of police checked and certified two of the dead. He told the coroner he was impressed with how police responded before the ambulances arrived.

"There was clear organisation, control and leadership within the mosque," he said.

He said their usual GP bags were inadequate for what they needed for a mass casualty event.

"One of the action points afterwards is that we've put together a grab bag which has got all the stuff that we need," he said.

"We've had three instances... since 2019 in which we've had to take the bag outside of the practice."

But no emergency since March 15, nor before it, could compare for this experienced doctor.

"I've been a doctor for 30 years, nothing is comparable to what it was like to be inside the mosque. The emotional intensity, the pressure and the tension was off the scale," he said.

There are still three weeks of this first phase of the inquest left.