Al Noor mosque survivor reunites with paramedics who saved him, one year after terrorist attack

As the two men shook hands, and met for the first time, there was a glimmer of recognition in the eye of intensive care paramedic Dean Brown.

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Sheikh Hasan Rubel was at his place of worship on March 15, 2019 when a shooter opened fire. Source: 1 NEWS

Soon enough, as they sat around the kitchen table, the memory came flooding back.

“I know where you were, I can remember seeing you there.”

Christchurch terror attack survivor Shiekh Hasan Rubel, still recovering from three bullet wounds to his legs and pelvis, smiled and grabbed his arm.

The men share a connection that few will ever have, after their paths were thrown together on March 15 last year.

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Sheikh Hasan Rubel was praying at Al Noor mosque when a shooter entered and opened fire.

In a few awful moments, he found himself trapped under the bodies of his friends in the corner of the room.

Soon afterwards he saw a flash of green, worn by St John paramedic Dean Brown as he entered the mosque flanked by the Armed Offenders Squad.

“I guess that experience was quite surreal, because I had no idea what we were going to face inside,” he said in an interview with 1 NEWS.

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“It was quiet, it was very quiet in there, there were a couple of people who were asking for help, but there was no yelling, screaming.”

Mr Brown was the first inside and, working with an elite team, he set about triage and identifying who could be saved.

Meanwhile, back in the control room, operations manager Wally Mitchell was sending as much help as he could.

“One of the big challenges we had in that particular incident was the rate of escalation,” he said.

“We have initially four causalities and then we had very quickly, 10, then we have 15, then we had 40 deceased.”

The emergency care workers had to make the difficult decision not to treat on site, instead trying to get the patients to the nearby Christchurch Hospital as soon as possible.

“It is very much our training kicks in, you train to do it a certain way. Once you start, it's almost automated to a sense, and then you think about it afterwards,” Mr Brown said.

“For me I found that my training, and having done this for over 23 years, that sort of really helped. I just went in, I knew what I needed to do, I knew what I needed to look for, and we just did that.”

The two ambulance workers saved many people that day and now, a year later, both were overjoyed to meet Mr Rubel in his new home in Avonhead.

The young dad, who is married with two daughters, has now gone through five surgeries and regularly battles with the pain from his injuries, still using a walking stick.

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Q+A reporter Whena Owen speaks to leaders from the Muslim community as they reflect on the events since the attack. Source: Q+A

He has another major operation later this month, which will temporarily set his rehabilitation back even further.

“I still can remember, I was asking, 'please take me fast, please take me fast',” he told the St John staff.

“When I was in the ambulance, I feel, ‘I'm safe, I'm safe, and I'll get the chance to meet my family again.”

The Muslim community has repeatedly expressed their thanks to St John for the rescue and that sentiment is shared by Mr Rubel, who asked how he could return the favour.

“Sometimes we think, ‘oh St John has done a great job, how can we give them back?,” he said across the kitchen table.

Smiling right back, both ambulance men reassured that wasn’t necessary.

“There's no need,” they replied as one.

“Seeing you do so well, and with such a positive attitude, that's the give back.”

Mr Rubel uses the experience to fuel his recovery as he fights to return to normality, and make the most of his life.

“I want to do all the same good things people have done for me, just get back to the society and do all the good things,” he said.

Astonishingly, both the rescuers and the rescued choose positivity, after a year of hardship and loss.