A report commissioned by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham praises SMG’s response to a deadly suicide bomb attack on an Ariana Grande show at the venue, killing 22 and injuring 60 people.
“Based on everything seen and heard, the panel believes that staff at the arena made a positive difference and that, without their contributions, the response would have been diminished,” concludes the report, saying SMG and security firm Showsec “attended to casualties in the foyer to the best of their abilities, putting aside concern for their own safety in order to try to save others.”
The 226-page Kerslake Report written by former Civil Service head Bob Kerslake concludes that the 140 SMG Europe and Showsec staffers on duty that night went “above and beyond their roles to provide humanitarian assistance” in the moments following the attack, many putting their own lives at risk to help others.
“When I was in the main arena, the stewards had formed a human wall to stop people going towards the smoke, which I believe was extremely brave,” one attendee told investigators developing the report, saying event staff “were fantastic and were trying to calm everyone down.”
The report also found that onsite first aid team Emergency Training U.K. were able to act quickly with “all thirteen Emergency Training staff, two Emergency Medical Technicians and eleven first aiders” who either “went to the foyer, where the director started a triage process, or otherwise supported those attending to the injured in the foyer. They were soon joined by SMG staff with first aid training, first aid kits and equipment (stretchers and carry chairs) and by BTP officers from the station.”
The report was much more critical of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services, who’s own emergency personnel did not arrive on the scene until two hours after the bombing due to communications breakdowns. The report also criticized an emergency telephone system created by Vodaphone which failed to keep family members informed about their loved ones and led to “considerable distress on the night to families who were frantically seeking to find out more information about what had happened to their loved ones.”
Despite the pointed critiques, the report found those who responded to the attack including arena management, private security and first responders showed bravery and service in the aftermath of the horrific bombing, which killed young children and parents leaving the concert. Preparation, investments in security and strong training meant staff “were generally able to act with a high degree of confidence,” the report found, noting “good judgment was exercised by key emergency personnel at critical points during the evening.”
In his conclusion, Kersake said he was proud of the response to the attack and said personnel must learn from the mistakes made when responding to future terrorism events, writing:
The Manchester Arena attack was devastating for many thousands of people. We must think first and always of the families of those who have been bereaved, those injured, and all those affected by this act of terror. We have ensured that their views have been front and center throughout this process.
There is a lot to be proud of in the response to the attack, both for the city region of Greater Manchester, and for the emergency services. The benefits of collaborative working and planning for emergencies were demonstrated to the full. And there were hundreds, if not thousands, of individual acts of bravery and selflessness.
But it’s also vital to learn the lessons around things that did not go so well. It matters not just for the people of Greater Manchester and beyond who were caught up in the terrible events of that night, but also for places that might be caught up in such an attack in the future.
View the report here.