Hospital staff who saved the lives of the poisoned Russians Sergey and Yulia Skripal expressed their concerns as they appeared, they had to deal with victims of a nervous attack.
The Skripals had been found bankrupt on March 4, but employees who treated them at the Salisbury District Hospital did not know why.
Nursing director Lorna Wilkinson said a key moment had come when policeman Nick Bailey was admitted with similar symptoms. "There was a real worry about how big that could be," she said.
She told BBC Two's Newsnight, "Have we just left two index patients who might have something that could really devour everything and bring in many victims, because we really did not know anything at the time?"
and Sister Sarah Clark, who was on duty that night, added that there are fears that the staff of the hospital might end up being affected.
She pointed out that at this stage, they had "taken no extra precautions to protect ourselves."
When It Turned Out to Them, The Hospital Staff Said They Had No Great Hopes (1
The series of interviews with Newsnight is the first time that hospital staff have talked in detail about the event and how they responded.
The testimonials of medical staff underline the crucial importance of decisions taken at the key level times: the rapid arrival in intensive care, the heavy sedation that was used to limit possible brain damage, and the Importance of advice, tests and treatments proposed by the Porton Down experts.
When the Skr ips were found, an opioid overdose was suspected.
"We have just been told that there are two patients in the emergency department who feel critically unwell and that they will come to unity," recalled ward nurse Ms. Clark.
But when the police became aware of Mr. Skripals. The former Russian spy reported to the hospital and discussed the danger of being the victim of a targeted attack
A serious incident was reported in the hospital and the police moved in to protect the scripts.
"I talked to the responsible nurse," Dr. Duncan Murray, the hospital's senior intensive care physician, "and it was this conversation that I, in my wildest imagination, could never have imagined … " Essentially the story of a well-known Russian spy who went to the hospital in rather unusual circumstances
While continuing the treatment , the medical staff dismissed the earlier theory of opioid poisoning and realized that what they saw was typical of organophosphate or neurotoxin.
Dr Stephen Jukes, an intensive care physician at the hospital, said, "When we knew that this is a nerve agent, we expected that they would not survive.
"We would try all of our therapies, we would guarantee the best care, but all the evidence was there that they would not survive."
Both scripts were heavily sedated, allowing them the intrusive medical equipment a possible series of nerves
Over time, sedation was reduced and ventilation switched from the mouth to the trachea, like the vivid scar on Yulia Skripal's neck shows in the TV saga she gave after her release.
As soon as the patients became more aware, the employees had to weigh carefully, what they could say to them without interfering with the police investigation and determining the right time for the questioning by detectives.
Dr. Christine Blanshard, Medical Director, said: "These are very difficult decisions because, on the one hand, you want to assure patients that they are safe and cared for, and on the other hand, you do not want to give them any information that comes with subsequent police interviews
It was the doctors and nurses who, out of concern for their patients, insisted that international inspectors obtain a court order before they could take blood samples from the scripts.
Dr. Jukes said, "These are vulnerable patients, they needed some form of lawyer, and without a court order, we could not allow them to get things done without their consent."
Once the scripters were stable and able to speak, the primary concern of medical staff was how to stimulate the production of the key enzyme acetylcholinesterase – which is needed to restore their normal bodily functions could be utated.
Of course, the body will do so after a nerve poisoning, but the process can take many months.
Dr. Murray says the hospital received input from "international experts," some of them from Porton Down, when trying to combine combinations of drugs.
Internationally renowned for its chemical weapons expertise, the lab processed tests and offered advice on the best therapies.
New approaches to known treatments were tested. Dr. Jukes said the speed of the Skrip's recovery was a very pleasant surprise that he could not fully explain.
Julia was released from the Salisbury hospital on April 9, and made a statement last week thanking the hospital. The release of her father from the hospital was announced on May 18th.
Dr. Murray said, "The vast majority of the improvement and the success … were due to the very good generic, basic intensive care."
He also praised the "excellent collaboration of the doctors, the fantastic care and dedication of our sisters".
Inevitably, there will be longer-term questions about the health of the script.
Dr. Blanshard said they needed continued support and commented, "We have a worldwide experience in treating three patients for the effects of Novichok poisoning, and I think it's safe to say we're still learning."
The full report on BBC Newsnight – May 29, 2018 at 22:30 on BBC Two.