THE first week of the Potters Bar Rail Crash inquest has revealed the heroes who rushed to the rescue after the 2002 derailment.

Successive witnesses have described the scene of devastation they were presented with and how they immediately went to tend to the injured and help where they could.

The jury of eight women and three men at the inquest heard from people like Wing Commander Martin Rose, who survived the crash and then helped injured author Nina Bawden to escape the wrecked train.

On the last day of evidence this week, on Thursday, Ian Ullersperger, manager of the nearby Sainsburys, told how his store closed to become a makeshift hospital for the injured.

About entering the station, he said: “To be honest with you, it was just chaos. There were people everywhere.

“You are just trying to make sense of what you're seeing and try to help the people as best you can.

“I made my way back to the left hand platform and started to approach the people that were, I assumed, all waiting for the train. They were literally just standing there in shock.”

Just after the crash happened, on May 10, 2002, Alison Rayner, customer services manager at Sainsbury's, called over the public address system for first aiders to come forward and go to the station to help.

Mr Ullersperger, who was not first aid trained, decided to get as many people as possible back to the store and away from the scene where several people lay dead on the tracks.

He said: “I can remember thinking to myself: I need to get these people off this station.

“We needed to get them out of the station, into our Sainsbury's where they could actually be, you know, calmed down and given some help, given a drink, kept warm, anything.”

The first week of the inquest has focused mainly on the actions of those from the supermarket, those on derailed train or platform, and office workers from Metropolitan House who rushed to help.

Next week's hearing will concentrate mainly on the emergency services response to the disaster, and the families of the seven who died will be given a chance to speak to the inquest.