The first paramedic at the scene of the Arena bombing speaks of shock at age of victims

The first paramedic on the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing has told a public inquiry he was not prepared for what a "large-scale and awful incident" it was.

Advanced paramedic Patrick Ennis was the first person from North West Ambulance Service to arrive at the venue after Salman Abedi detonated a bomb which killed 22 people and injured hundreds of others on May 22 2017.

Giving evidence to the public inquiry into the attack, Mr Ennis said it was not until he entered the City Room, or foyer, where the bomb was detonated that he realised the "true scale" of the incident.

He also said he had not prepared himself for the age of those involved in the incident, which happened at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Mr Ennis was one of three paramedics to enter the City Room on the night and will return to give more detailed evidence about what happened in there on a later date, the inquiry has been told.

The inquiry heard that radio communications between Mr Ennis and colleague Jackie Carney, who worked on the trauma cell in ambulance control, were recorded as he made his way to the arena at 10.38pm, seven minutes after the bomb went off.

Speaking over the radio, Mr Ennis said: "They seem like they're a bit like headless chickens up there at the moment, as I will be of course as soon as I arrive on the scene."

Patrick Ennis Credit: Manchester Arena Public Inquiry.

He told the inquiry he was referring to the ambulance service's emergency operations centre but said: "That's a comment which I perhaps regret and a very offhand comment."

He added: "The fact they had not been able to give me any information and the fact it had taken some time to assign me to the actual emergency call suggested it was a little chaotic at the time."

The inquiry heard that after arriving outside the arena and speaking to two police officers who were with casualties, Mr Ennis sent a radio message to control in which he said: "Major incident standby. Reports of a nail bomb, possibly a shooting incident."

He said there were six to eight walking wounded and asked for at least four ambulances to be deployed.

Mr Ennis said calling a "major incident standby" would prompt the control centre to start the same actions as if he had declared a major incident.

He said: "I was aware I was likely the first ambulance on the scene but I was still at the stage of gathering as much information as possible in order to be able to, firstly, decide whether or not this was, as it seemed, a major incident and also to be able to provide the remainder of information that was required of me."

The inquiry is looking at events before, during and after the suicide bombing by 22-year-old Abedi.

The 22 victims of the Manchester Arean bombing. Credit: ITV News