Manchester Bombing Inquiry: emergency services failed

Manchester Bombing Inquiry: emergency services failed

Emergency services in England all failed in their response to the Manchester bombings in 2017.

Four reports running to 1,000 pages have concluded that the response by Greater Manchester Police after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at Manchester Arena was poor, as an inquiry into the tragic event declared that the response by North West Ambulance Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services was delayed and sluggish.

Former Detective Chief Superintendent and Counter-Terrorism Commander at the Metropolitan Police, Scott Wilson, highlighted a number of conclusions that the experts had drawn.

One was that there was ‘no apparent cohesion and co-ordinated response’ between the services, who should have been operating to the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (Jesip). In theory, had all services worked to this they would have co-located and communicated in order to co-ordinate a response to what was a major emergency.

The reports concluded that no one was working to Jesip principles and that a breakdown in communication and operational confusion led to each emergency service working independently.

At the inquiry to the event, Wilson described the failure to quickly agree a rendezvous point at the scene in order to plan their response was “one of the major failings” by commanders from the three emergency services.

Other issues were also raised including the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service sending pumps to a fire station three miles away while they waited for more information, and not arriving at the scene until two hours after the explosion.

In addition both fire and ambulance staff were unable to reach their point of contact – the police force duty officer – to determine what was happening amid confusion over whether there was an active armed terrorist at the location or not.

The inquiry continues.

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