Firefighters didn’t arrive at scene of Manchester bombing until an hour after the injured were cleared as police were forced to use makeshift stretchers to move the wounded, inquiry hears
- Fire service argued over where to meet others before deploying, inquiry was told
- Images were shown to the inquiry of makeshift stretchers that police, first aid staff and rail employees used to help transport the badly injured in the meantime
- The last was removed 54 minutes before fire service arrived, the inquiry was told
- Inquiry also heard that for an hour, police believed there might be an accomplice
- Inspector Dale Sexton, force duty officer, was told of ‘Asian male with rucksack’
- Firearms officer told him there was a ‘second male in company with the bomber’
All the injured had been cleared from the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing an hour before the fire service arrived, the inquiry has heard.
The fire service spent nearly two hours arguing over where to meet the other emergency services before deploying, the hearing was told.
Images were shown to the inquiry of makeshift stretchers that the police, first aid staff and rail employees used to help transport the badly injured in the meantime.
The last was removed at 11.40pm, 54 minutes before Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service arrived, the inquiry was told.
The hearing was told the ambulance and fire brigade refused to enter the City Room foyer where the bomb had gone off because they feared it was too dangerous.
Instead police officers and members of ETUK, who provided first aid for the arena, tried to save the lives of the most seriously injured.
It was only after 43 minutes that two members of the ambulance Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), who were trained to respond to terrorist attacks, entered the City Room to triage the injured.
But many were carried to waiting ambulances on makeshift stretchers made from crowd control barriers, instead of the stretchers in the ambulances.
At 12.36am, an hour and five minutes after the explosion, the fire service arrived outside the arena and started wheeling an ambulance stretcher along the street, but by then only a handful of injured remained at nearby Victoria Station.
The inquiry also heard that for an hour, police believed that they might have an accomplice to the bomber on the loose.
Images were shown to the inquiry of makeshift stretchers that the police, first aid staff and rail employees used to help transport the badly injured in
In a message at 11.16pm, 45 minutes after the attack, Inspector Dale Sexton, the force duty officer, was told about ‘an Asian male with a large rucksack.’
A firearms officer, PC Edward Richardson, told him there was a ‘second male in company with the bomber, we believe he left the scene when the male blew himself up. He is an Asian male wearing glasses, a baseball cap and possible beard.’
Firearms team were dispatched to track him down, and he was said to be ‘in a confused state’ and heading from the cathedral towards Manchester, Piccadilly Station, which was locked down.
Mr Sexton was recorded warning there was ‘nothing to say there’s a second individual involved’ as he asked for an ‘armed inquiry’ to be made.
Firearms officers were also sent to search what one described as the ‘labyrinth’ of rooms in the Manchester Arena.
But an hour later, Mr Sexton was recorded saying: ‘We don’t believe there’s a second individual involved. We believe there’s been some confusion and the person we were looking for was actually the main player.’
Nick de la Poer QC, for the inquiry said the suspect had been reported ‘in good faith’ by a member of the public.
Many were carried to waiting ambulances on makeshift stretchers made from crowd control barriers, instead of the stretchers in the ambulances
The public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing carried out by Abedi (pictured) heard the fire service spent nearly two hours arguing over where to meet the other emergency services before deploying
Salman Abedi killed 22 men, women and children when he blew himself up in a suicide bomb attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.
The Manchester Arena inquiry has been told that two victims, Saffie-Rose Roussos, eight, and John Atkinson, 28, might have survived if they had received faster treatment.
On Wednesday, the inquiry was played a series of calls that revealed confusion in the fire service.
At 11.46pm, an hour and 15 minutes after the explosion, Janine Carden at fire control could be heard saying they had no more information on where to meet.
Asked if she had any updates, Ms Carden replied: ‘No I’m just waiting to sort of hear.’
‘We’ve got no pumps down at the actual scene do we?’ a fire officer called Dean Nankivell asked.
‘No, no, no, they’re at Philips Park together with three [liaison officers],’ she said, referring to the fire station rendezvous point, three miles from the arena.
Saffie-Rose was the youngest victim of the terror attack that claimed 22 lives. A new report has revealed medics she asked paramedics ‘am I going to die?’ as she was rushed to hospital
At 11.50pm, Station Manager Berry phoned the force duty officer at Greater Manchester Police and spoke to David Myerscough who had been assigned to answer the phone.
‘I just wondered if you have decided on a forward command point for co-location,’ he said.
Mr Myerscough repeated that they had assigned the Cathedral car park, which had been rejected by Mr Berry an hour earlier as ‘too central.’
Even though the police had earlier decided there were no shots fired, Mr Berry offered the fire service’s marauding terrorist firearms attack ‘capability.’
‘We’re not going anywhere until we have a nailed on forward location point we can all locate to,’ Mr Berry said.
When Mr Myerscough suggested the police headquarters at Central Park, Mr Berry said: ‘That might be an RV [rendezvous] but we need a forward control point to co-locate at with the ambulance service.’
A third suggestion was then offered of the Old Boddington’s Car Park, opposite the arena, but Mr Berry rejected that saying: ‘The ambulance are apparently at our Thompson Street fire station and we’re going to muster there.’
Nick de la Poer QC, for the inquiry, said: ‘We pause to remind ourselves at the outset of that call we were a few seconds shy of one hour 20 minutes post explosion and over ten mins after the final surviving person has left the City Room.’
At 12.15am Rochelle Fallon from North West Fire Control spoke to fire service liaison officer Ben Levy saying: ‘The police still haven’t advised us on this forward point’.
She added: ‘I don’t believe anybody has declared Operation Plato yet. Do you want me to put that on the log?’ referring to the response to a marauding firearms attack.
‘No, I don’t,’ Mr Levy said.
John Atkinson, a victim of the Manchester arena bomb attack, may have survived if treated
The bombing at the Manchester Arena in 2017 killed 22 people. Pictured: Police at the scene of the attack
The fire engines arrived outside Victoria Station, next to the arena, at 12.36am and at 12.43 an officer went into the station with an oxygen cylinder.
At 12.47am, fire officers could be seen pushing an empty ambulance stretcher along the street and into Victoria Station.
However even after that, there was a discussion between Chief Fire Officer Peter O’Reilly and Chief Inspector Mark Dexter, the ground-assigned tactical firearms commander for Greater Manchester Police about protective clothing.
In the conversation at 12.54 am, two hours and 23 minutes after the attack, Mr Berry told Mr Dexter: ‘I’ve got the Chief on the phone, we haven’t got ballistic gear on, I need authorisation off our chief you see.’
Mr Dexter said that they were in a ‘warm’ zone’ where emergency services are supposed to have protective equipment but it is ‘going cold.’
‘Warm going cold did you get that Chief?’ Mr Berry said. ‘Would you like to speak to him Chief, he’s right here next to me.’
Mr Dexter can be heard telling him: ‘We’ve not had a firearms discharge its purely IED [improvised explosive device].
‘There’s no ongoing firearms threat that we’re aware. I’m not going to object to them wearing ballistic protection if that’s what they need to wear but at the moment I’d say that risk of that is quite low.’
The inquiry continues.
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