Sitting by the River Clyde, the Clutha Bar was busy with over a hundred people celebrating the end the working week when their night took a dark turn. A Police Scotland helicopter fell from the sky – according to an eye-witness the rotors were not turning and it just fell on to the roof of the pub. Waking up today to the full story having just caught parts of the story last night there is a great sadness about the tragedy of the accident, but a great pride in the resilience of those who were there and rather than running from the issue stepped forward to help those inside the pub.
At the time of writing there are 1 fatality (potentially more) and 32 confirmed injured and the emergency services are continuing to ensure that those still trapped are reached as soon as possible in case of injury. I was moved by the Leader of Glasgow council’s pride in his fellow residents as he talked about the human chain that pulled the injured from the pub and how everyone came together to help. Jim Murphy the Labour MP was just beside the bar when it happened and you could see the impact on him also as he tried to describe the events and reaction. The reality of this situation must be kept at the front of our minds because with the rolling news broadcasts we can become desensitised to the truth of the event.
There are two things that spring to mind though watching the footage of the interview with the authorities. Firstly can the media please show more restraint and respect for these people trying to do their jobs. Stop asking about numbers, sounds, voices heard, communication with those trapped, the emotions of the fire-fighters and such as it is hugely disrespectful to try to turn this into a tawdry TV event rather than the human tragedy it is. We at home not involved just want these people to be able to get on with their jobs without being harangued by the rude microphone wielding pariahs – and to those who are directly affected, with people missing or injured it’s downright inappropriate to ask for those kind of details. Let the official spokespeople tell you what they can and report facts please.
Secondly, the blame game. As it was a Police Scotland helicopter some knives will be out for both the service and for Bond and this misses the point. While I have my own concerns about how low many of these new Police helicopters are flying over our city and the value in them we have to remember that this was an accident and again let the authorities do their jobs on this. If it turns out that there is a fault with them then ground them across the country until they are checked. Also remember that there is a real likelihood here that those 3 fatalities could include Police officers that were on board the chopper and they too have friends and family that will be grieving.
This is a tragic accident and a sad day for Glasgow. They need space and support in equal measure so no amount of cameras, microphones or journalists will make the job any easier. Politicians need to stand back and not make this an issue for points scoring either – that helps no one.
Thoughts are with all those who are involved from the victims and their families, to the witnesses and the emergency services who once again do work that I could never do. And if you want to help and can do so – please go to your local Blood Donor Bank and give your pint to help ensure that supplies are maintained for those who need it. Go to www.scotblood.co.uk for more details.