Lawyer: Only 1 paramedic on scene in 1st 40 minutes after Manchester bombing
A British court was told during an inquiry into the 2017 terrorist attack that police officers pleaded for ambulances as concertgoers carried victims on makeshift stretchers
UNITED KINGDOM — Just one paramedic attended the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing during the first 40 minutes after the blast, and at least two victims had to wait over an hour for medical attention, an inquiry has heard.
The inquiry into the 2017 bombing entered its second day on Tuesday, with the inquiry’s counsel, Paul Greaney, telling the court that it would have to consider whether more lives could have been saved.
Greaney was critical of the emergency services’ response and coordination in the wake of the attack.
He said only three ambulances were available on the night of the attack, and a police officer had to plead for ambulances 24 minutes after the bomb exploded as crowds left the Ariana Grande concert.
At 10:33 p.m., two minutes after Salman Abedi’s bomb detonated, one police officer sent a radio message saying “it’s definitely a bomb,” and requested backup and ambulances.
Twenty minutes later, another officer from Manchester police’s firearms division reported that the bomber was dead, and urged emergency services to send more ambulances. “We just need more ambos and paramedics. Any one they can get hold of, please,” he said.
Two minutes after that call, another police officer phoned the control room. “You’re going to hate me, where’s our ambulances please?” he said.
At least two victims received medical attention more than an hour after the blast. The inquiry was told that their lives may have been saved had they received medical attention earlier.
One victim, an 18-year-old woman, was removed from the blast zone at 11:26 p.m. — nearly an hour after the explosion — and was put into an ambulance at 11:38 p.m. She later died.
Another, a 28-year-old man, was evacuated from the part of the arena where the blast took place, the City Room, at 11:17 p.m.
He was removed on a makeshift stretcher, made from a display board found in the arena, and received medical attention at 11:47 p.m. but later died. Greaney said the “issue of (his) survivability is a significant issue for the inquiry to consider.”
Most patients were removed using makeshift stretchers, with only one medical stretcher in use all evening.
The inquiry was also told that in July 2016, Manchester authorities identified the City Room in the arena as a potential target for terrorist attacks.
Greaney said: “The very fact that a terrorist attack in the City Room was expressly envisaged as a suitable set of facts for a multiple-agency exercise may speak volumes about how obvious a target for terrorists the City Room was.”
The inquiry is expected to continue into spring 2021, and will explore whether there were any failings by security services, the police or arena staff in preventing and responding to the attack.
©2020 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)