Emergency response to Manchester Arena attack ‘far below’ standard, inquiry finds

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An inquiry into the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, which killed 22 people, has found that one of the victims could have survived if the response from the emergency services had been quicker.

The attack took place on May 22, 2017 following an Ariana Grande concert at the venue. The second volume of the inquiry covers the response of the emergency services and has been released today (Thursday).

In his report, inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders said that the performance of the emergency services was “far below the standard it should have been”. Saunders also stated that it “is likely that inadequacies in the emergency response” prevented the survival of John Atkinson, who was aged 28 when he died.

The report states that Atkinson was not immediately treated by paramedics when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in the foyer of the arena. A member of the public, Ronald Blake, assisted Atkinson and applied a makeshift tourniquet to his right leg by using his wife’s belt. The inquiry heard that up to an hour passed before paramedics treated Atkinson, who died in hospital.

“Some of what went wrong had serious and, in the case of John Atkinson, fatal consequences for those directly affected by the explosion,” Saunders said.

Saunders also said that there was only a “remote possibility” that eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the attack, could have survived with different treatment and care.

Saunders said: “On the evidence that I have accepted, what happened to Saffie-Rose Roussos represents a terrible burden of injury. It is highly likely that her death was inevitable even if the most comprehensive and advanced medical treatment had been initiated immediately after injury.”

The inquiry found that the other 20 victims suffered injuries that they could not have survived from, with Saunders stating that he was “sure that inadequacies in the response did not fail to prevent their deaths”.

The second volume of the inquiry has been released after the first volume was published in June 2021. The first volume criticised venue operator SMG and security provider Showsec for the measures put in place before the attack, with Saunders stating that there were missed opportunities to prevent the “devastating impact” of the disaster.

In the first volume, Saunders said the “loss of life and injury is highly likely to have been less” if Abedi had been identified as a threat by those “responsible for the security of the arena”.

At the time of the attack, the arena was operated by SMG, which has since merged with AEG Facilities to form ASM Global. SMG contracted Showsec, which specialises in crowd control, to provide crowd management and event security for the Ariana Grande concert.