The Immediate Aftermath - 5. The Hospitals
Some of the dead were taken to the two main hospitals and there were some victims who died in hospital. The hospitals had to deal with a large number of injured people as well as those searching for relatives and friends. At the Northern General people were directed to a canteen to wait. A volunteer social worker commented:
"It was filled with people in various states of distress…some people were sitting at tables, some were standing up, some were banging walls, others were just numb."
One bereaved father waiting for news of his missing son explained:
"The Assistant Hospital Administrator came in and stood on a table and started reading descriptions out of people in the mortuary."
This is how some people realised their loved ones were dead:
" He started to reel off information…as he did people were collapsing like dominoes."
The Hospital Administrator would later admit privately to researchers that he had undertook this insensitive method of informing the waiting people. In fact when interviewed he broke down and cried at the mistakes he and others had made.
The formal policing that went on in the hospitals was also insensitive. One mother who had been told that her daughter was in the hospital mortuary was told when she went to see her that she couldn't. When she remonstrated with the police officer she was told:
"That body is the property of the coroner."[sic]
6. Hammerton Road Boys' Club
A disused boys' club became a 'holding' area for relatives. This decision seems to have been based on the fact that it was opposite the police station and was therefore convenient for the police. The lack of facilities in the club hardly rendered it suitable otherwise. People would wait at the club before being taken to the police station to give details of the person they were looking for. As with the hospitals and gymnasiums misinformation was rife here also.
7. The Medico - Legal Centre
The Medico - Legal Centre in Sheffield is combined of the city mortuary, the department of Pathology and the Coroner's Court. Following the decision made at the ground to use the gymnasium as a temporary mortuary, the first body did not arrive at the Medico - Legal Centre until 10.06p.m.(Saturday) The last body was received 6.05a.m.(Sunday). Bereaved families have been very vocal in criticising the identification procedure both at the gymnasium and the city mortuary. At the Medico - Legal Centre people were distressed at only being allowed to view bodies behind a glass screen. The fact that they could not touch or hold their loved ones has had a profound influence on the bereaved.