Sat. May 21st, 2022

The last moments of John Atkinson’s life must have been as frightening as they were painful.

More than once, he told the heroic few who cared for his terribly injured legs ‘I’m going to die’ as he waited and waited to be removed from the foyer, where suicide bomber Salman Abedi had just detonated a huge, makeshift device packed with nuts in his backpack.

But those who helped him simply did not have the expertise – or the tours – to stem the catastrophic bleeding that led to his death.

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Eventually, he was dragged from the foyer where the explosion happened, known as The City Room, onto a red advertising magazine that cracked under his weight, leaving a trail of his blood in the wake.

When he was finally loaded onto a proper stretcher at the gate of Victoria Station below – which had been hastily converted into a field hospital – he went into cardiac arrest.

John Atkinson was among the 22 who died in the May 2017 attack

He finally left in an ambulance two seconds after midnight – an hour and 29 minutes after the explosion. He died shortly after arriving at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The shocking details of the last moments of his life – including the revelation by experts that he could have survived with better treatment – were revealed this week in the ongoing investigation into the atrocities on May 22, 2017.

The evidence suggested the use of proper medical tours while Mr. Atkinson was in the foyer may have saved him.

This separated Mr Atkinson from eight other victims of the attack, who are said to have suffered ‘surviving’ injuries during the previous four days of the investigation.

The cases of the remaining victims will be dealt with over the next few weeks.

One of the questions the query has struggled with over the past year is why it happened that only three paramedics were ever sent into the urban space, and even then primarily to triage victims rather than treat them there.

The first was an advanced physician Patrick Ennis, who entered the City Room at 10:52 p.m., about 21 minutes after the explosion, who was joined by specialists trained to deal with terrorist incidents Lea Vaughan and Christopher Hargreaves, at 11:15 p.m., moments before Mr. Atkinson was pulled out on a flimsy cardboard that was makeshift stretcher.

None of these three tended to Robert Atkinson, who was conscious and seemed alert despite heavy bleeding, instead concentrating on what appeared to be more seriously injured people.

First responders have billboards at Manchester Arena to help victims after the bombing

Several doctors were downstairs but were detained for fear of a continued terrorist attack.

This meant that the early care of Mr Atkinson was largely left in the hands of a former pizza shop manager, Robert Blake, who was there to pick up his daughter and others, including a Showsec manager, a TravelSafe officer, a Northern Rail employee, three doctors from the Arena’s contractor for medical services, a PCSO and a number of police officers.

As the smoke disappeared seconds after the explosion, CCTV images captured Mr. Atkinson on hands and knees, crawling along the floor of the urban space, leaving a large blood trail in the wake of an apparent effort to reach an exit.

Atkinson, 28, of Radcliffe, Bury, was six feet away from Abedi when the bomb went off.

The health assistant, who helped young adults with autism and Asperger’s, had been to a concert with her lifelong friend Gemma O’Donnell, who was blown to another corner of the foyer and also injured.

Sir. Blake was with him in seconds and called 999 to report that he could see the blood ‘pumping’ from the injured person’s knee and then comply with an instruction from an ambulance control room operator to inflict a temporary tour on his right leg.

Paramedics Chris Hargreaves and Lea Vaughan climb the stairs to the raised footbridge on their way to Manchester Arena

He used his wife’s belt and later packed folded t-shirts under it in an attempt to stop the bleeding. At one point, the victim’s pants were cut away and bandages were applied to his grenade-splintered legs.

Another was glued to a wound under the chin. His legs were also tied together.

Through their QC, the Atkinson family praised the ‘heroes’ of Mr Blake, who kept pushing the makeshift tour into place for almost an hour until he was finally moved down to the ‘damage station’ at Victoria Pier.

Sir. Mr Blake agreed that it was “obvious that a doctor, some doctor, someone from the North West Ambulance Service should be there” with Mr Atkinson.

The inquiry has previously heard evidence that police officers in the foyer were increasingly concerned that no more paramedics were arriving.

One of the cops who cared for Mr. Atkinson, PC Chelsea Meaney, was sitting next to Mr. Atkinson, when he told her, “I’m going to die.”

Ronald Blake stayed with John Atkinson for almost an hour

She held his hand as she reassured him and said to him, “It’s not you – what I need you to do is hold my breath for me, keep your eyes open and keep talking.

“The ambulances are on their way and they’re coming. They’re not that far away. You have to concentrate and keep breathing and keep talking.”

The ambulances arrived, but only three paramedics ever arrived at the foyer that night.

He later asked Marianne Gibson, one of the Arena contractor’s doctors, “I’m going to die, right?”

She replied, “Not on my watch, you are not.”

He finally arrived at the casualty station at 11.25pm, an uncertain journey that took 10 minutes.

CCTV showed him grabbing the sides of advertising hoards as he was dragged along the walkway. It could not fit into the lift.

It stooped at one point, and a metal railing was quickly retrieved to reinforce the makeshift stretcher that eventually carried him down the stairs.

Paramedics Chris Hargreaves and Lea Vaughan moments before entering the City Room at Manchester Arena

Paramedic Philip Keogh, a former Army Reserve aide who had served in Afghanistan, recalled that Atkinson looked ‘waxy as hell’ and his legs ‘appeared to be a mess’.

He said he immediately knew Mr Atkinson was a ‘P1’ patient, the most serious without making any observations.

The injured man told him ‘don’t let me die’ and the paramedic promised he would not.

Sir. Keogh recalled a little talk and could see that he was still paying attention.

“I asked John if he had had a good night, and John said it had been a good night, or words about it,” Keogh said.

At the time, paramedics caring for him could barely detect a pulse and suspected he had gone into ‘hypovolemic shock’ and he was administered medication to tackle the blood loss.

The footage uncovered by the investigation revealed a muffled voice believed to be Mr Atkinson and said, “I’m going to die.”

Another doctor told him ‘no, it’s not you’ and asked him for his name. He could be heard answering, “Atkinson, Atkinson.”

But he went into cardiac arrest when he was moved onto a proper stretcher.

Paramedic Keogh said in a statement to the study: “I felt terrible. I had promised the patient he would not die.”

He was confirmed dead on MRI shortly after he arrived.

Cardiologist Dr Jonathan Rees dismissed Atkinson’s heart disease as a significant factor in his death, concluding: “If it had been possible to eradicate him from the scene and deliver him safely to a pre-notified trauma team with access to extensive blood products before cardiac arrest followed, then survival could may have been possible. “

Daniel Smith

A panel of ‘blast-wave’ medical experts with experience in treating battlefield injuries identified by the study concluded in their own report that the injuries Atkinson had suffered were ‘potentially survivors’, although they noted that heart disease reduced the chances of survival. .

In a subsequent report, they added that he could potentially have survived with early treatment, especially with the application of tours on both legs. His injuries were ‘susceptible to out-of-hospital treatment’.

NWAS’s chief operating officer at night, Dan Smith, told the query that he was “familiar” with the arrangement that had been put in place to remove people to the emergency station.

He was asked why one of the officers who helped Mr. Atkinson get down the stairs had felt “frustrated” at the help provided by paramedics.

The 22 who died

The PC got caught and said to Mr. Smith, “Sorry, I know you’re in a hurry. We’ve got someone stuck on the first ground. Two broken legs. We just can not move him.”

The investigation heard that Smith suggested leaving the injured person where he was and ‘covering him’. The officer tried but could not find any blankets.

Smith said he could not remember the exchange, but said he felt “safe” with the system to remove the injured.

“The reality is that every patient should be treated as soon as possible,” Smith said.

The chairman of the inquiry, Sir John Saunders, asked Mr Smith: “We know, as you know, that there is at least a strong possibility that if Mr Atkinson had received the right treatment before, he would have survived. So a person has died unnecessarily and at a time when NWAS was at least on the scene. “

The witness said ‘yes’ and Sir John continued:’ If he had received that treatment early enough when NWAS was on the scene and you were able to give it then he probably would have survived. This is not a situation, that should happen, is it? “

Smith replied, “No, sir.”

Sir John Saunders

Sir John continued: “So why did this happen in this case, and why did it go wrong, and what was the problem with the system you were running? Because I have no doubt that you have thought a lot about this.”

Smith said all the first respondents that night ‘would do their very best’.

He added: “Mr Atkinson’s death will remain with his family for a very long time and I’m really sorry if a decision I made, a decision, affected his ability to survive.”

He stood next to it, repeating evidence he first provided to the March inquiry that he believed NWAS policy forbade him from sending more paramedics into the foyer as it was a ‘hot zone’ where remained at risk of further terrorist attacks or secondary units.

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He said: “I really thought at the time that the right answer was to move these patients as quickly as possible away from the urban space and of course accept all the evidence that has gone before me as to whether more paramedics should have been in it. My view was that the system actually worked reasonably well in terms of patient movement. “

The inquiry resumes Monday with more evidence of John Atkinson.

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