- Members of the public in and around the City Room showed extraordinary courage and compassion in response to the Attack.
- Members of the public made an important contribution to the emergency response.
- On the night of 22nd May 2017, they represented the very best of our society.
While the Inquiry did not receive evidence from every member of the public who provided assistance in the City Room, evidence was received from a significant number of people. What follows are just some of the accounts the Inquiry received.
In relation to each of these individuals, it is important to record that every one of them acted heroically and selflessly. None of them had any form of protective equipment. Many were dressed for a night out or were in casual clothing. I accept that, in the case of each and every person I heard from, they were doing the very best they could that night. The circumstances with which they were presented were appalling. That night they represented the very best of our society.
In Part 17 in Volume 2‑II, I will identify some of those who were helped by the people listed in paragraphs 16.166 to 16.194. In Part 18, I will deal with those they helped who were killed by the explosion. Some of the people whose experience I summarise below responded to the incident, despite having been in the City Room when the bomb detonated.
Members of the public in the City Room at 22:31
Jonathan Woods was waiting on the mezzanine to collect his wife and daughter from the concert in the City Room. He recalled seeing people start to come into the City Room. He described the atmosphere as being “good”. When the bomb detonated, he saw “an incredible flash being red black and purple in colour”. He felt the shock wave. He was struck in the knee, and his leg buckled. He believes that he was lifted off the ground and deposited in front of the JD Williams entrance. Despite this, he did what he could to assist those affected by the explosion. He tried to help Michelle Kiss.
Michael Byrne was waiting in the City Room to collect his daughters.After the explosion, he stayed and assisted casualties in the City Room, including Alison Howe and Lisa Lees.
Ronald and Lesley Blake were in the City Room at the time of the detonation, waiting to collect their daughter and her friend after the concert.Ronald Blake described seeing a large orange flash about four car lengths away from where he was standing, followed by a loud bang. He felt something hit his right inner thigh. He found himself lying on the floor looking up towards his wife, Lesley.
Having checked that his wife was uninjured, Ronald Blake noticed John Atkinson lying on the floor covered in blood. He approached John Atkinson and made a 999 call.“did brilliantly”. Ronald Blake stayed with John Atkinson until 23:29, at which point John Atkinson was evacuated to the Casualty Clearing Station and was being treated by a paramedic.With the encouragement of the operator, he applied his wife’s belt to John Atkinson’s right leg as a tourniquet. Colonel Professor Jonathan Clasper, a member of the Blast Wave Panel of Experts who considered John Atkinson’s care, gave evidence that Ronald Blake
Ronald Blake helped others injured outside Manchester Victoria Railway Station.He had no previous first aid training. He provided help while he himself was injured. He further injured himself when carrying down the stairs the makeshift stretcher bearing John Atkinson.
Philip and Kim Dick
Philip and Kim Dick were in the City Room waiting to collect their daughter and granddaughter at the time of the explosion.They immediately went to help an injured girl and, later, a second injured girl in the City Room. They assisted with those children’s evacuation from the City Room to the Casualty Clearing Station.
They stayed with the two injured girls until Philip and Kim Dick were reunited with their daughter and granddaughter around midnight.“upset that it took in excess of an hour before any paramedic or medically trained person attended to the girls”.Kim Dick expressed her
Members of the public who went to the City Room to help
Bethany Crook, a nurse, had been at the concert with her daughter, Hope, who was 13 years old at the time.They were in the Arena bowl when the bomb was detonated. On entering the Arena concourse and seeing the injured there, Bethany Crook was encouraged by her daughter to help, which she did. She left her daughter with staff at the Arena and was taken by another member of staff to the City Room. She entered the City Room at 22:52.
Bethany Crook went on to assist many in the City Room, including Saffie‑Rose Roussosand Georgina Callander. Having given assistance in the City Room, Bethany Crook also continued to help many in the Casualty Clearing Station into the early hours of 23rd May 2017.
Bethany Crook described her experience in this way:
“Never had I felt so helpless, lost or alone. All I had before me were my two bare hands, no equipment, some skills, my faith and hope that somewhere there were people trying to get to us to help. But this wasn’t the case. No one was coming and what may have been seconds to you all felt like minutes for me, what were minutes felt like hours, and what were hours felt like an eternity, alone with people and children’s lives literally in my bare hands.”
Daren Buckley attended the concert with his son, who loved music.His son enjoyed the concert: he sang every word.
The bomb detonated as they were walking towards the City Room. There was a huge flash, and the doors to the City Room slammed shut.
Daren Buckley left his son with a member of staff and went into the City Room to help.“[N]obody’s helping, so somebody’s got to help.” He stated that the police said it was a crime scene and he had to leave.The CCTV showed he was in there for over 21 minutes. Armed police officers told him to leave. Daren Buckley initially refused. He said:
Daren Buckley collected his son from the Arena.They were directed to go back through the City Room. They were told it was the safest place to go: the area had been checked.
Darron Coster served with the Royal Military Police for 22 years.He retired in 2008. Through his military service, he was familiar with the aftermath of a bomb explosion. This enabled him to stay calm in a crisis. He had basic battlefield first aid training. This included how to apply pressure and, subject to the guidance in force at the time, the use of tourniquets.
Darron Coster had arranged to collect his son, his son’s girlfriend and a friend from the concert.“a little flash of dust and light”. He walked towards it and saw a cloud of dust coming out of the doors leading into the City Room. People were evacuating quickly across the raised walkway. He received a text message from his son to say they were safe.As he arrived at the steps of the raised walkway, he heard an explosion. He stated that it was
The first action Darron Coster took in the City Room was to shut the doors so that no one else could see in. It was an upsetting scene, and he was aware of the possibility of secondary shooters or explosions.“quite a state”: they did not know what to do and did not seem to have any first aid training. Darron Coster told them to get water and check on people. He said to leave those who were not responsive, but to stay with anyone who could communicate and to provide them with reassurance.He then spoke to various people wearing tabards. They were, he said, in
Darron Coster walked around the City Room several times.He provided care to a number of people. He applied a tourniquet to a person with a leg injury. He used a belt and a handbag strap. Another casualty had injuries to his torso and face. Darron Coster spoke to the casualty’s mother on the phone. He provided reassurance that everything would be ok. A third casualty was lying on a table by the merchandise stand. That person was already receiving first aid from a police officer. Darron Coster again spoke on the phone. He reassured the casualty’s mother that they looked like they would survive. He attempted to assist a man with serious leg injuries, who was sitting down. When they tried to move him, the casualty was in considerable pain, and it was not possible to evacuate him. He stated that they did not have a stretcher.
After about ten minutes, Darron Coster saw a BTP officer arrive. Darron Coster thought that the police officer identified himself as the Bronze Commander. They spoke and Darron Coster offered any help that was needed. He felt that the police officer was effective and took charge of the situation.“cavalry had arrived”.Four or five further police officers arrived at about the same time, followed shortly afterwards by a medic, with three pips on his shoulder. This was the Advanced Paramedic Patrick Ennis. At that point, he thought the
Darron Coster stayed in the City Room helping casualties until between 23:10 and 23:30.He provided assistance to many in the City Room. He covered Nell Jones with a jumper.
Gareth Chapman, a T‑shirt seller, was on Victoria Station concourse when the bomb detonated. His child and the mother of his child were attending the concert.Figure 40: Gareth Chapman running towards the City Room at 22:31:52As shown in Figure 40, 52 seconds after the explosion, he is captured on the station concourse CCTV running to the City Room.
Gareth Chapman entered the City Room via the Fifty Pence staircase less than two minutes later.He covered Megan Hurley, Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry with T‑shirts. He gave what assistance he could to others. He assisted in carrying John Atkinson to the Casualty Clearing Station.
Off‑duty police officer Michael Buckley was waiting in his car near the Arena to collect his daughter when he heard a “loud hollow booming sound”. He made his way to the City Room. He provided assistance to injured people. He sought to provide treatment to Sorrell Leczkowski. He also sought to provide treatment to Kelly Brewster, with whom he remained for over half an hour.
Paul Reid, a poster seller, was outside the City Room just off the Trinity Way link tunnel when he heard the blast.He had completed first aid at work training through his employer and had received refresher training about one year prior to the Attack. He made a 999 call before he entered the City Room. He helped Saffie‑Rose Roussos for over 30 minutes. He returned to the City Room and assisted others.
Robert Grew lived in a flat that overlooks the Arena. He was standing outside his flat at the time of the detonation.He heard a loud bang from the direction of the Victoria Exchange Complex. He thought it was a train crashing into the buffers at the station. He started to jog over to the station in case people were hurt and there was something he could do to help.
Robert Grew was an experienced climber and had previous experience with serious fall‑type injuries. He described himself as a “competent first aider” so hoped he might be able to assist. On entering the City Room, he described being “not remotely prepared [for] the scene I encountered at the top of the stairs and within the foyer … It was total and utter carnage.”
Robert Grew sought to help those he could in the City Room, including Lisa Leesand Courtney Boyle. When she gave evidence, Claire Booth mentioned Robert Grew and the help he gave to her and her daughter Hollie. Robert Grew also spoke to John Atkinson in the City Room.
Sean Gardner was waiting to collect his daughter outside the City Room at the time of the detonation.He sought to provide assistance to Jane Tweddle. It was not until after he had given what assistance he could to Jane Tweddle that he was reunited with his daughter.
Thomas Owen heard the bomb go off when he was with his girlfriend in the Arena bowl.They agreed she should go to his home address. He made his way to the City Room along the concourse. Once there, he assisted the injured, including Georgina Callander.
I have considered above the responses of those organisations based within the Victoria Exchange Complex, and the individuals who found themselves in and around the Victoria Exchange Complex on the night of the Attack. I have pointed out where there were failings in relation to SMG and ETUK’s preparedness and response. Similarly, I have noted the courageous actions taken by members of the public, as well as Northern Rail and TravelSafe staff, present on the night of the Attack.