Manchester Arena attack: Victim's family ‘badly let down’ by emergency services

Family tells inquiry that John Atkinson, 28, might have survived if he had received hospital treatment sooner

A handout photo released by the Manchester Arena Inquiry in Manchester, northern England on September 8, 2020, shows suicide bomber Salman Abedi walking from Vitoria Station towards the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. A public inquiry into the May 22, 2017 suicide attack at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people attending an Ariana Grande concert, by 22 year old Salman Abedi, started this week in Manchester. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Manchester Arena Inquiry " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
 / AFP / Manchester Arena Inquiry  / - / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Manchester Arena Inquiry " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

A man who died after the Manchester Arena attack was badly let down by emergency services, his family said on Monday.

John Atkinson was one of 22 people murdered at an Ariana Grande concert when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in his rucksack in May 2017.

The public inquiry has previously heard consultant paramedic Dan Smith, the operational commander for North West Ambulance Service, say he was “truly sorry” if any decision he had made affected Atkinson’s survivability.

On Monday, the family released a statement in which they said they had been “badly let down” as “mistake after mistake” was made.

“We lost our beloved John to an appalling atrocity while on a night out, an atrocity which could and should have been prevented by proper security,” the family said.

“To compound this, John was badly let down by some from the emergency services. Mistake after mistake was made, and precious time was allowed to ebb away whilst John needed urgent hospital treatment,” they said.

“This should never have been allowed to happen. John had so much to give … Actions speak louder than words, and we wait to see what actions are taken to ensure this never happens again.”

An independent cardiology expert has told the inquiry that Atkinson, 28, from Bury, Greater Manchester, might have survived if he had received hospital treatment before his cardiac arrest.

Atkinson, a healthcare worker, lay in the foyer for 47 minutes before police officers put him on a makeshift stretcher and placed him on the ground near the station entrance. Another 30 minutes passed before he was taken to hospital, where he died.

Senior paramedic Philip Keogh had taken over the care of Atkinson from a member of the public who had held an improvised tourniquet of a belt on the patient’s leg for nearly an hour.

He said he quickly assessed that Atkinson needed an urgent transfer to hospital because his appearance was pale, which indicated massive blood loss.

Mr Keogh attended to other casualties while an ambulance crew came over. He said he was “surprised” that, when he returned about 15 minutes later, Atkinson was still lying there.

Shortly afterwards, when the patient went into cardiac arrest, Mr Keogh said he started chest compressions and helped to put him into an ambulance.

“I had just been with a patient who had asked me not to let him die. At the time, when I said I wouldn’t, I thought then his chances were absolutely slim but I wasn’t going to tell him the truth, because it’s not what you do. You provide comfort to people like that,” said Mr Keogh, who works for NWAS.

He said he was “overwhelmed” because patients outnumbered paramedics at the scene and he agreed with John Cooper QC, representing Atkinson’s family, that more were “desperately needed” to help perform the job he was doing. The inquiry continues.

Updated: October 12th 2021, 12:08 AM
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