Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

The family of a care worker who could have been rescued after the bombing of the Manchester Arena have refused to accept an apology from the elderly paramedic on the night of the attack.

The family of John Atkinson, 28, of Bury, Greater Manchester, said “mistake after mistake was made and precious time was allowed to ebb away” and they wanted to “see what action is taken to ensure this never happens again”.

His mother, Daryl, stepfather Kevan and sisters, Stacey and Laura, who were at the Manchester Magistrates’ Court hearing, said Atkinson was “badly let down”.

In a statement read by their lawyer Richard Scorer, they added: “We have so many questions that we hope the inquiry can help answer. We lost our beloved John to a terrible cruelty while we were out for a night, a cruelty that could and should have been prevented by proper security.

“To reinforce this, John was badly let down by some from the emergency services. Mistake after mistake was committed and precious time was allowed to ebb out while John needed emergency hospital treatment.

“This should never have been allowed to happen. John had so much to give.”

The inquiry heard that a parent was calling Ronald Blake, who was at the arena with his wife to pick up their daughter, used his wife’s belt as a makeshift tour and stayed with Mr. Atkinson for nearly an hour.

Sir. Atkinson was left in the City Room foyer, where bomb exploded for 47 minutes before police helped Mr Blake lead him to an advertising magazine because paramedics had not arrived.

Ronald Blake.  Photo: Inquiry from Gardham / Manchester Arena
The family praised Ronald Blake’s actions. Photo: Inquiry from Gardham / Manchester Arena

Police officers were stuck at the top of a set of stairs, but a senior paramedic suggested they “cover him up and leave him”.

Instead, police officers found a crowd control barrier to carry him down, but when they brought him to the Victoria Station gate, which had been set up as an emergency station, he was left there for 23 minutes.

He was still talking and begging “do not let me die” until he had a heart attack when he was wheeled to an ambulance, an hour and 16 minutes after the explosion.

Experts have said Mr Atkinson could have been rescued with faster medical care, and on the third day of hearings on his treatment, Phillip Keogh, a senior paramedic, said there were not enough paramedics and that patients were standing on the ground waiting for help.

Salman Abedi walks past two PCSOs the night of the attack
Salman Abedi walks past two PCSOs the night of the attack

Last week, consultant paramedic Dan Smith, who ran the operation for the North West Ambulance Service, said he was “really sorry if a decision I made affected his ability to survive,” but added: “My view was that the system worked reasonably well in terms of patient movement. “

But Mr Atkinson’s family said: “We cannot accept this apology. Actions speak louder than words and we are waiting to see what action is taken to ensure this never happens again.”

The family added: “We would like to thank those who tried to help John in his emergency.

“Ronald Blake in particular is a hero. Hearing about stranger kindness at night has given us a glimmer of hope in our darkest moments.”

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‘There is no justice’ father of 8-year-old victim

Atkinson worked as a caregiver throughout his career, including helping adults with autism and looking forward to being a foster father with his partner, Michael, his family said.

“John was our son, brother, uncle and friend. He was kind, intelligent and would illuminate every room he went into. Everyone who knew him loved being around him.”

The investigation continues with expert evidence on Tuesday.

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