Manchester Arena bombing victim could have survived if emergency services responded better, report reveals

A Manchester bombing victim could have survived if significant aspects of the emergency response had been better, a report into the 2017 terror attack has revealed.

John Atkinson, 28, had “survivable” injuries but died after he did not receive the “treatment and care he should have.”

The second part of the Manchester Arena Inquiry, chaired by Sir John Saunders and released today, revealed “significant aspects of the emergency response went wrong.”

Sir John also said “the performance of the emergency services was far below the standard” it should have been.

Mr Atkinson was one of the 22 who died on May 22, 2017 and the inadequate emergency response had “serious and… fatal consequences” for him.

The inquiry also heard that firefighters from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service did not arrive at Manchester Arena until two hours after the bombing and only one paramedic entered the scene in the first 40 minutes.

Greater Manchester Police did not declare a major incident for more than two hours.

The report also said North West Ambulance Service should have “scrambled” specialist paramedics trained to deal with terror incidents sooner and more ambulances should have been sent to the scene before 11pm.

Only three paramedics were ever dispatched into the blast zone, one of whom was only involved in triaging. 

Sir John revealed 20 of the victims suffered “unsurvivable” injuries in the blast and he was “sure inadequacies in the response did not fail to prevent their deaths.”

The inquiry heard Mr Atkinson lost a “significant” amount of blood as he laid on the foyer floor for 47 minutes before being carried downstairs by police on a makeshift stretcher to a “casualty clearing area” at Victoria Station.

After more than 20 minutes passed, he went into cardiac arrest at 11:47pm and was finally rushed to Manchester Royal Infirmary at midnight.

He was pronounced dead about 25 minutes later.

The chairman concluded that it was “highly unlikely” eight-year-old girl Saffie-Rose Roussos would have survived. 

There was only a “remote possibility” that Saffie, the youngest victim, could have survived.

However, the report revealed it was “likely” inadequacies in the emergency response prevented Mr Atkinson’s survival.

On the night of the attack, the Force Duty Officer on the night, Inspector Dale Sect, had launched the correct police response to a continuing marauding terror attack – over fears of a potential second terrorist at large.

The report found it was “vital” he shared this response with the other emergency services that night but he “failed to do so”.

Sir John said Inspector Sexton failed this because he “was overburdened on the night”.

He added that GMP “had known for years” that he would become overburdened in the event of such a terror attack.”

Other emergency service bodies, including British Transport Police, North West Fire Control and the arena’s owners SMG, were also criticised in the report.

The report can be read here.

Image: David Dixon

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