Christchurch mosque attacks: Paramedic explains why it took half an hour to enter Al Noor Mosque

The Hāto Hone St John operations manager on site at Al Noor Mosque told the coronial inquest on Tuesday that paramedics entered the building at great personal risk.

Craig Stockdale said that he doesn’t want this to become protocol for ambulance staff, and explained why paramedics didn’t enter for half an hour after the killer had left.

"A gentleman approached me, carrying a young child aged approximately three," Stockdale began telling the court.

March 15 is still very raw for the first paramedic to arrive at Deans Ave.

"It was apparent from a brief assessment that the child had not survived," he continued.

It was Mucaad Ibrahim, the youngest victim of the terror attack, held by his dad.

Stockdale didn’t have time to support or console him.

"I regret not having had the time to do so."

The intensive care paramedic, who joined Hāto Hone St John aged eight, still has the people he helped that day front of mind.

"If I may say something to the families…" he asked the coroner, standing to acknowledge the entire community "whose lives have been impacted forever".

Stockdale arrived at the scene 11 minutes after the killer left.

"[It was] declared a mass casualty event," he said.

190 worshippers were at Al Noor Mosque on March 15, when the terrorist attacked.
190 worshippers were at Al Noor Mosque on March 15, when the terrorist attacked. Photo credit: Newshub.

There were people everywhere down Deans Ave.

"Distressed and some with blood on them, there were bodies on the ground. It was sometimes difficult for St John staff to understand who was injured," he told the court.

A scene in desperate need - but still deemed extremely high risk at the time he arrived.

"The dilemma St John and others face is that waiting until a scene is safe, or until there is a great apparent safety, can cost lives."

But he hit back at police evidence that ambulances were sitting down the road, not coming forward to the mosque.

"We were treating a victim at the Argyle Park Motel, and then a second victim, the ambulances were not simply stopped."

Paramedics entered the mosque half an hour after the terrorist left.

But at that time police told Hāto Hone St John that a bag inside may have had an IED or a bomb - and potentially other active shooters nearby - but they broke protocol and went in.

"The risk of people dying while the potential IED was cleared was too high," Stockdale said.

But he told the coroner he doesn’t want ambulance staff entering risky scenes to become a required practice.

"Had things gone less well, we could have an injured or dead responder."

He said around 190 people were inside Al Noor mosque that day.

Hāto Hone St John took 22 to hospital - and the death toll here alone reached 44.