Arena attack victim ‘totally failed at every stage’, says family

The family of Manchester Arena bombing victim John Atkinson have said he was “totally failed at every stage” as a report found he would have survived but for inadequacies in the emergency response.

In a statement released after the inquiry report’s publication on Thursday, Mr Atkinson’s family said he must have known he was dying, adding: “This should simply never have been allowed to happen.”

Mr Atkinson’s 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.”

Paying tribute to a member of the public who tried to save Mr Atkinson, the victim’s family said: “During this crucial time, Ronald Blake acted heroically to try to save John.

“We want to say thank you again to Ronald Blake for all he did that night.

“However, the medical tourniquets John needed were not made available and the paramedics who could have saved him should have been at the scene much sooner.

“As the report says, responsibility for these failures lies squarely with ETUK, SMG who commissioned ETUK to provide medical services at the Arena and North West Ambulance Service.

“Finally, had Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service arrived at the scene earlier, as they should have done, they could have used their stretchers to get John out of the City Room much sooner and with much less pain.”

The statement continued: “Even after John was moved from the City Room to the Casualty Clearing Station, further delays meant that he was not prioritised for evacuation to hospital.

“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.

“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.”

Mr Atkinson’s family said their lives had been “shattered” after his death.

Paying tribute to him, their statement continued: “John was our son, brother, uncle, and friend.

“Everyone who knew him loved being around him. He always put others first.

“As today’s report says, his working life was spent helping those in care and his kindness and generosity were evident for all to see.

“He lit up our lives, and there is less laughter in the world without him. Since his passing, our lives have been shattered.”

Addressing the apology from the ambulance service, the statement said: “The apology from North West Ambulance Service means nothing unless they act rapidly on this report to ensure that no family ever has to go through this horrific experience again.

“We welcome Sir John’s promise to monitor the implementation of his recommendations. Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words.

“We will be watching to see what happens now. We thank the Chair (Manchester Arena Inquiry chairman) for his meticulous and fearless report. John will always be in our thoughts and in our hearts.”