Manchester Arena Inquiry: Experts believe two of the 22 victims could have 'survived'

Ronald Blake stayed with Manchester Arena bombing victim John Atkinson for almost an hour trying to slow his bleeding. Hannah Miller reports on the latest from the inquiry.

Blast wave experts have confirmed 20 of the 22 Arena victims died from injuries that were unsurvivable with 'current advanced medical treatment'.Experts told the inquiry that the injuries of John Atkinson and eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the attack, were 'potentially survivable'.

The inquiry has already heard Mr Atkinson, from Bury, had to wait an hour and 29 minutes to be put on to an ambulance after the blast.

The 28-year-old healthcare worker lay in agony in the foyer for 47 minutes before police officers carried him on a makeshift stretcher and placed him on the 'cold' ground near the station entrance.

John Atkinson, a healthcare worker from Bury could have 'survived' his injuries after the Arena attack if he'd been given better care

Mr Atkinson knew he was seriously ill and had begged a paramedic, 'not to let him die'.

It took another 30 minutes until he was taken to hospital, where he died, despite a blood transfusion and attempts to resuscitate him.

The inquiry heard he 'could have survived' if he had received quicker treatment, particularly the application of proper tourniquets to shrapnel wounds to his legs.

Dr Paul Rees, an expert cardiologist, and a surgeon commander in the Royal Navy, was instructed by the inquiry's chairman to consider the case of Mr Atkinson.

Makeshift barriers were used to carry some of those injured during the Arena attack to a triage area on the station concourse

His report says if it had been possible to extract Mr Atkinson from the Arena's City Room 'and deliver him safely to a pre-alerted trauma team with access to extensive blood products before cardiac arrest ensued, then survival might have been possible'.

Dr Rees, however, says that once cardiac arrest had occurred, 'survival was extremely unlikely'.

Colonel Jonathan Clasper, a professor, who served with the Royal Army Medical Corp and is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons sits on the inquiry's 'blast wave' panel.

He told the inquiry, his view is that ambulance services should consider the provision of blood to a scene in the event of an incident of the magnitude of the Arena terror bombing.

He says the application of a makeshift tourniquet to Mr Atkinson's leg - by a member of the public, Ronald Blake, a parent who had been waiting for his daughter - slowed down his bleeding.

Ronald Blake, described as a hero by John Atkinson's family

He had used his wife's belt as an improvised tourniquet and stayed with Mr Atkinson for nearly an hour.

"He probably made a very big difference. I think he did brilliantly, we would be looking at a completely different timeline if he didn't," the colonel said.

However, CCTV footage showed that a pool of blood around Mr Atkinson had grown between 30 minutes after the attack and 43 minutes, showing that he was losing blood from his left leg as well as his right.

Col Clasper agrees that in order to save his life, additional steps would have had to have been taken to stop his bleeding and he should have been taken to hospital as soon as possible.

He said patients could survive losing more than 40 per cent of their blood volume if they had tourniquets applied and received treatment fast enough.

"I think he had quite a high chance of survival if things had been done sooner and he had been taken sooner into hospital," the colonel added.

"The leg injuries were unlikely to be fatal in their own right. The abdominal injuries were severe but again manageable.

It is possible to survive in those circumstances but when Mr Atkinson suffered a heart attack, after an hour and 16 minutes, there was "no coming back" the colonel said.

John Atkinson could have survived if he'd been given better care at the scene after the Arena bombing

Mr Atkinson's family have said they felt "let down by some from the emergency services" and that "mistake after mistake was made, and precious time was allowed to ebb away whilst John needed urgent hospital treatment." 

On the last day of hearings into his death, a panel of "blast wave" experts for the inquiry, said Mr Atkinson had died from multiple secondary blast injuries that were "potentially survivable with advanced medical treatment."