Manchester bomb victim John Atkinson ‘could have survived’ Manchester Arena attack: inquiry finds

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The Manchester Arena inquiry found ‘the performance of the emergency services was far below the standard it should have been.’

At least one of the 22 people killed by a suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena could have survived his injuries if he had been treated more promptly, an inquiry has found.

John Atkinson, 28, died at hospital after being wounded in the leg when the bomb exploded as he left the Ariana Grande concert at the arena in May 2017. He was not treated by paramedics for 47 minutes and was instead tended to by a member of the public, Ronald Blake. In the second report from the Manchester Arena inquiry, published today, inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders said “swifter treatment and swifter and more appropriate evacuation of casualties” that night could have saved Mr Atkinson’s life.

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Sir John also found that the overall performance of emergency services on the night was ‘far below the standard it should have been’ and said he ‘could not exclude the possibility’ the youngest victim, eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos, may have survived too with better treatment. He found the other 20 killed could not have survived their injuries.

John Atkinson died following the Manchester Arena bombJohn Atkinson died following the Manchester Arena bomb
John Atkinson died following the Manchester Arena bomb

‘Heroism shown’

Sir John’s near 1,000-page report notes there was “heroism shown by very many people” on the night of the attack and that members of the public had helped the emergency services save lives.

However, he said while there was evidence of individual emergency workers doing their jobs ‘to a high standard’ after the attack, he was critical of “the emergency response overall.”

Eight year old Saffie-Rose Roussos, a pupil at Tarleton Community Primary School, sadly died following the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.Eight year old Saffie-Rose Roussos, a pupil at Tarleton Community Primary School, sadly died following the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.
Eight year old Saffie-Rose Roussos, a pupil at Tarleton Community Primary School, sadly died following the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.

The report noted: “GMP did not lead the response in accordance with the guidance that it had been given or parts of its own plans. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) failed to turn up at the scene at a time when they could provide the greatest assistance.

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“North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) failed to send sufficient paramedics into the City Room. NWAS did not use available stretchers to remove casualties in a safe way, and did not communicate their intentions sufficiently to those who were in the City Room. “

GMP Chief Constable Stephen Watson said the force had already to started to act and make changes to operations.

“On behalf of Greater Manchester Police, I thank the inquiry team for the opportunities that we have been given to participate fully and fairly in the inquiry process and we welcome today’s report.

“I fully accept the findings of the Chair, Sir John Saunders.

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“Beyond the selflessness and professionalism of so many of our frontline staff however, it is also clear that our coordination of the response to this atrocity was inadequate.

“We had failed to plan effectively and the execution of that which had been planned, was simply not good enough. Our actions were substantially inadequate and fell short of what the public had every right to expect.

“For this I apologise unreservedly.

“Our failure to effect proper command and control of the incident, from the outset, undermined an effective multi-agency response to a dreadful set of circumstances. We did not act upon learning from previous exercises which could have reduced the burden or impact felt on the Force Duty Officer.

“Poor communications, poor planning, inadequate training and shortcomings in strategic leadership all played a part in our failure.”

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Greater Manchester’s Chief Fire Officer, Dave Russel added: “Our response that night was wholly inadequate and totally ineffective, and that will forever be a matter of deep regret for our Service. We let the families and the public down in their time of need and for that I am truly sorry.

“I know that no apology will take away the pain and suffering of the families who lost loved ones and of the survivors. But I want them to know that I fully accept the Inquiry’s criticisms of our Service and I accept the recommendations in full.”

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