Manchester Arena attack: Hero held tourniquet for an hour while ambulances were 'on their way.'

·4-min read

A hero of the Manchester Arena bombing stayed with an injured man for nearly an hour, holding a tourniquet, while he was waiting for a paramedic, the inquiry has heard.

John Atkinson, 28, a care worker from Bury, told a police officer: "I am going to die" but was reassured that ambulances were on their way.

However, it was 58 minutes before paramedics took over and he had a heart attack as he waited for an ambulance, the inquiry heard.

It was left to Ronald Blake - a member of the public who was at the arena to pick up his daughter and her friend after the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017 - to try and use his wife's belt to stem the bleeding from Mr Atkinson's leg.

At the start of a four-day hearing into Mr Atkinson's treatment, the inquiry was told he was not triaged, assessed or assisted by any member of the North West Ambulance Service in the 47 minutes before he left the City Room foyer at 11.18pm, carried on a makeshift stretcher by police officers and members of the public.

Patrick Ennis, a senior paramedic who had "self-deployed" to the arena, was the only paramedic in the room, until two others arrived as Mr Atkinson was being taken out.

Mr Atkinson was at the concert with Gemma O'Donnell, who was his partner Michael's sister and a lifelong friend. He was behind Miss O'Donnell as they left and about six metres from the bomber, Salman Abedi.

CCTV showed Mr Atkinson crawling on his hands and knees across the City Room towards the exit, leaving a "large trail of blood" behind him, the inquiry was told.

Medical experts have told the inquiry that the "timely application" of a tourniquet by trained staff could have saved his life.

The inquiry has also heard another of the 22 victims of the bombing - eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos - may have survived if she had received help more quickly

Mr Blake, a former pizza restaurant manager, stayed with Mr Atkinson for 58 minutes before the paramedics took over. He told the inquiry that the care worker "went more quiet at times" and added: "I just kept saying talk to me."

Mr Blake said he had no first aid training at all and only seen a tourniquet "just like everybody else, on the telly."

The fire brigade took more than two hours to arrive at the arena and no stretchers were available to carry Mr Atkinson from the City Room foyer where the bomb had gone off.

Mr Blake described trying to get him on to an advertising board from the merchandising stand but said: "They couldn't get the board out of the doors, the board was too flimsy to lift."

It took seven minutes to drag Mr Atkinson from the City Room on the advertising board and then to fetch a metal crowd control barrier to reinforce it, before carrying him down the steps to the concourse of Victoria Station underneath the arena.

Mr Blake kept hold of the tourniquet for an hour and it was only when two paramedics came to treat Mr Atkinson, that he let go of it.

When he came to Mr Atkinson's aid he did not know where his own daughter, aged 21, was and it was only after half an hour that his wife left to try to find her.

Mr Atkinson had dragged himself across the City Room and was found by Mr Blake within seconds of the blast.

In a 999 call to the police 52 seconds after the explosion, he could be heard saying: "There's been an explosion at the arena, in the foyer where the entrance is. There's loads injured. I'm with a man now that's really injured.

When he told the operator Mr Atkinson's leg was "pumping" she told him: "Have you got anything on you. Have you got something like a tie or a belt? You need to tie it round the top of his leg, alright?"

The inquiry heard that PC Chelsea Meaney reassured him at 10.59pm, 28 minutes after the explosion, that ambulances were on their way.

When she asked if he was okay, Mr Blake told her he could not move and PC Meaney asked his name and introduced herself.

"I'm going to die," Mr Atkinson said to her.

It was another 19 minutes before he was lifted up and taken out of the City Room.

At 11.48pm Mr Atkinson suffered a heart attack from loss of blood. Mr Blake only found out he had died when he went to hospital the next day for treatment to his own injuries.

Mr Atkinson was described by his family as an "incredibly hard working, strong willed, caring and generous young man" who put music, fashion and dancing at the forefront of his life.

The inquiry continues.

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