First paramedic to enter Al Noor Mosque Dean Brown admits he broke St John's policy

The first St John paramedic to enter Al Noor Mosque on March 15 told the coronial inquest today that he did so against St John's policy.  

Once in, he and his team did not have time to check everyone properly for signs of life because of the overwhelming number of patients and the severity of their injuries.  

Dean Brown was the very first paramedic to enter Al Noor Mosque and was called to relive that day, first addressing survivors and families.  

"I don't presume to understand what you have gone and continue to go through, but I sincerely hope and pray that in time you will find peace," he said. 

It was anything but peaceful when he arrived in his one-man vehicle outside Christchurch's Al Noor Mosque, 27 minutes after the terrorist fled.  

"The scene appeared hectic," Brown described. "There were armed police officers, members of the public, and dead bodies visible." 

There were still concerns about potential active shooters nearby, and St John policy would have had him stay away.  

"Frontline EMS staff do not enter zones where there's potential risk," he explained. However, Brown knew there were people inside who needed help. 

"There were human beings inside who needed help and that was what drove me inside," he said. 

He went in without protection but was led by police. "The way they approached the mosque with their weapons up that there was substantial perceived risk about their and our safety," he said. 

Once inside and faced with the horror, he said the mosque was unexpectedly quiet.  

"There was some mild moaning, but no one cried out, no one yelled no one screaming," he described. 

He quickly realised the overwhelming number of patients and the severity of the injuries   

"It is possible that given the objective and speed of our initial entry, at that stage I did not identify all the survivors," he said. 

He told the inquest that there were many inside who clearly had unsurvivable injuries, so decided to get those that looked like they had the most chance of surviving, to hospital as soon as possible. 

24-year-old Tariq Omar, who died from his injuries, was lying in the mosque. His family's lawyer told the court it's now known his injuries were not to be instantaneously fatal. 

"No responder either earlier or during the extraction went over to Mr Omar and physically checked him," Family lawyer Nikki Pender said. 

"We tried to verbally get a response from all of the people within the mosque," Brown said. 

This event's impact on families, survivors and first responders is overwhelmingly apparent in this inquest.  

An experienced member of the AOS, who arrived early to Al Noor Mosque, broke down on the stand on Thursday when recounting his interactions with terrified survivors.  

"I recall the looks on the faces of these people - was that of complete terror and confusion," he said, crying. "They were initially hesitant to approach us. We continued yelling 'Come to us, come to us you're safe'," he said. 

Another AOS officer first inside tried to help badly injured Zekeriya Tuyan, who later died.  

"For how injured he was, he was very lucid and very strong," he said. "His family should be very proud of how strong he was." 

"On behalf of us and Mr Tuyan's family, we do give our thanks for the efforts that you made for his first aid," Tuyan's family lawyer said. 

Tariq Omar's family lawyer also thanked the first responder. "You and your colleagues acted with great courage and heart and almost certainly saved lives," Pender said. 

Many acting without thought of their own.