accessibility & help

"I used tablecloths to treat wounded in Tunisia"

29 June 2015

  • First aid trainer drew on decades of experience as British Red Cross volunteer
  • Heard gunfire during spa treatment at resort

A British holidaymaker used tablecloths to treat people wounded in Friday’s Tunisia attack.

Brian Harrison, 56, said: “I couldn’t find any first aid kits so I grabbed a cloth off the table.”

Mr Harrison, who first volunteered with the Red Cross in 1971 and is now a first aid trainer for the organisation, spent the hours after the attack giving first aid and reassuring people caught up in the violence.

“It can’t be gunfire”

Mr Harrison, an ex-soldier from Rosehill in Aberdeen, was visiting a spa at the Sousse beach resort during a two week break with his wife.

He said: “I heard what I thought was gunfire. I told the masseuse and she said ‘it can’t be’, and carried on.”

Minutes later he discovered the devastation caused by the violent attack – and set about doing what he could to help. But many people at the scene were dead or already dying.

As well as giving first aid, he used Red Cross techniques designed to reassure and support people who have been through traumatic events.

Mr Harrison said: “There were people who just needed someone to speak to – who could explain what was going on.

“My natural personality is quite jokey. And obviously you need to rein that in at times. But sometimes it can really help.

“I ended up speaking to a British girl who had shrapnel wounds and a badly broken arm. She asked if I could go to the hospital with her, so I did.”

Glad to help

Meanwhile, Mr Harrison’s wife – a surgical nurse – was also helping survivors.

Later he contacted the Tunisian Red Cross to offer his help as a first aid-trained English speaker. The couple have now been flown back to the UK.

Describing the scenes after the attack, Mr Harrison said: “There seemed to be a lot of people milling about… but I was able to help a couple of the victims, at least.”

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