THE Manchester Arena bombing victims were failed by emergency services on an “unfathomable scale”, Saffie-Rose Roussos’ family say.
A critical report has today found at least one of the victims would have survived the attack had it not been for the “inadequate” emergency response.
That one person was 28-year-old John Atkinson.
Sir John Saunders, the public inquiry’s chairman who wrote the report, said he also found it was “highly unlikely” Saffie-Rose would have survived with a quicker emergency response – but there was “a remote possibility”.
It took paramedics 43 minutes to reach the scene and firefighters who were stationed just three miles away did not arrive until after the last seriously injured victim had been rushed to hospital.
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Both Saffie-Rose’s and John’s family have since spoken out in the wake of today’s report.
Solicitor Nicola Brook, who represents the family of Saffie-Rose and four other victims’ families, said the “damning report” revealed what families always knew.
She continued: “That all the organisations meant to protect their loved ones failed on an enormous and unfathomable scale.
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“To compound the families’ pain, they were then forced to listen to denials, excuses and finger-pointing rather than admissions of the terrible mistakes made.”
Ms Brook said “so much distress could have been spared had Greater Manchester Police admitted its glaring failures from the start”.
Saffie-Rose was four metres from the explosion, which unfolded during an Ariana Grande concert, and suffered more than 100 separate injuries.
An off-duty nurse and two police officers were forced to carry her out of the arena on a bloodied advertising board.
An ambulance was flagged down, but Saffie-Rose went into cardiac arrest and died shortly after arriving at hospital.
Ms Brook added: “Saffie’s parents Andrew and Lisa have pushed to get answers about what happened to their beautiful daughter over five and a half incredibly traumatic years.
“After initially believing the blast had killed Saffie instantly, the pain of that loss was compounded by learning that she had lived for over an hour.”
John Atkinson’s family mirrored much of what Ms Brook said.
John was totally failed at every stage
John Atkinson’s family
In a statement, the family said: “Today, the inquiry has answered our questions about John’s death.
“It is now clear beyond any doubt that on the night of the bombing John was totally failed at every stage, both by the private medical providers at the Arena, ETUK and the emergency services.
“It is crystal clear that due to those failings, John died from injuries that he could and should have survived.
“As the report says, timely medical treatment to stop or slow John’s catastrophic bleeding and get him to hospital would have saved him.”
For almost an hour after the bombing the 28-year-old was only tended to by former pizza shop boss Ronald Blake – who held a makeshift tourniquet made from his wife’s belt and folded t-shirts.
He was not seen by any paramedics in the foyer where the bomb went off, and was moved on a makeshift stretcher to the “casualty clearing station”.
He repeatedly told people caring for him: “I’m going to die.”
The family’s statement continued: “He was left, dying, without his dignity, on the floor when it should have been obvious to medics that he needed to get straight to hospital.
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“As we know from witnesses, John kept asking if he was going to die. John must have known that he was dying and the pain that causes us is too great to put into words.
“This should simply never have been allowed to happen.”