Medic declines to answer inquest questions on events before soldier’s death
An Army medic who battled to save a soldier who collapsed and died near the end of an eight-mile march has exercised his right not to answer questions about events leading up to the tragedy.
Combat medical technician Andrew Fuller broke down at an inquest into the death of Corporal Joshua Hoole after the 26-year-old’s father told him he did not blame him for his son’s death.
During more than an hour of evidence to the Birmingham coroner, Sergeant Fuller repeatedly declined to answer questions about his knowledge of heat illness protocol but did give an account of his efforts to revive Cpl Hoole.
An inquest has heard Cpl Hoole, described as “fit, capable and determined”, died within an hour of collapsing during an annual fitness test at Brecon, Wales on July 19 2016.
The death of the soldier, from Ecclefechan near Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, came three years after three Army reservists suffered fatal heat illness during an SAS selection march in the Brecon Beacons.
The inquest into Cpl Hoole’s death has already heard soldiers were aware it was to be “the hottest day of the year” and the march start time was brought forward, due to the weather.
At the start of Sgt Fuller’s evidence on Thursday, Birmingham’s Senior Coroner Louise Hunt told him he was not obliged to answer any questions that may incriminate him.
The medic, who was also a corporal at the time of the march, then said he did not wish to answer a series of questions, including one asking whether he was aware of an MoD document dealing with heat illness.
During Sgt Fuller’s evidence, the coroner read out parts of statements he gave to police, a services inquiry and the Health and Safety Executive, but he declined to confirm whether the extracts were accurate accounts.
He also opted not to answer questions about the collapse of two other soldiers prior to the end of the march, including one said to be suffering from “heat exhaustion.”
After Sgt Fuller said he did not wish to answer a query about an MoD document governing heat-related injuries, Mrs Hunt said: “I am going to suggest it says it (heat illness) is a warning that others are at risk and that a dynamic risk assessment should be undertaken.”
Sgt Fuller again declined to answer, before telling the court that he had grabbed his medical kit and rushed to help Cpl Hoole, who was not breathing.
He told the inquest: “I tried to get a response from him, I opened his airway and noticed a large amount of fluid in his airway.
“I shouted to the people who were there ‘help me’, took his kit off and rolled him over to try and get the fluid out of his mouth.”
Sgt Fuller then started CPR with rescue breaths, while others summoned further medical help, the inquest heard.
At the start of questioning by Cpl Hoole’s father, Phillip Hoole, Sgt Fuller dabbed at his eyes with a tissue and became emotional after Mr Hoole told him: “I don’t blame you… whatever happens when you go out (of the coroner’s court) you take that with you.”
The hearing continues.