MANCHESTER, UK (CelebrityAccess) — The fire service played “no meaningful role” in the wake of the deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last year, according to a review of the response to the attack.
According to the independent review of the response to the attack, fire crew from the Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service “did not arrive at the scene and therefore played no meaningful role” in the aftermath of the attack, despite two fire crews being stationed within hearing distance of the bomb blast.
“The Fire Service was effectively ‘outside the loop’, having no presence at the rendezvous point established by the Police, little awareness of what was happening at the Arena and only a very limited and belated presence,” the report determined.
According to the report, Manchester fire crews started to respond to the explosion but were instead diverted to a nearby rendezvous point, amid fears of an ongoing terror attack.
The fire service decided to send in units only after a senior officer overheard a conversation at approximately 12:15 AM the following morning that police and paramedics were on the scene of the attack.
Other rescue services, including ambulances and police, responded quickly, with the first ambulance arriving at the scene just 9 minutes after the blast was reported. Fire officers later said that had they been told this key information by police earlier they would likely have responded to the attack earlier, the report said.
The fire service fields three special response teams equipped with special stretchers designed to quickly extract casualties from a terror incident. However, the teams were not deployed and rescue workers and arena staff instead used advertising boards and railings as makeshift stretchers.
British telecom Vodafone was also heavily criticized in the report. The National Mutual Aid Telephony system operated by Vodafone experienced a “catastrophic failure”, the report found. The failure of the telephone system lead to a breakdown in key communications, reducing casualty coordinators to a “frantic search around the hospitals of Greater Manchester to find out more [available hospital capacity]” the report found.
Venue staff, however, were largely praised for their response to the incident, both in the assistance rendered to wounded concert-goers, as well as the evacuation.
“The stewards from the Arena were fantastic and were trying to calm everyone down,” one respondent told the review.
The independent review was ordered by the Mayor Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester and led by Lord Kerslake, who is currently Chair of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London and was previously Head of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government.