Wednesday 22 November 2017

First paramedic on scene of Manchester attack says no training could have prepared him for what he saw

'I was just hit by a wave of devastation...There were people screaming in pain and people terrified'

People gather to pay tribute tot hose who died in the Manchester bombing Photo: PA
People gather to pay tribute tot hose who died in the Manchester bombing Photo: PA

There were “screams from all directions”, according to the first paramedic to arrive at the scene of the Manchester.

Paddy Ennis said he had ignored casualties begging for help and instead focused on those who were quiet, believing they were likely to be in a more serious condition.

“I made my way up the stairs”, the 38-year-old father-of-three told The Mail on Sunday. “I was still the only paramedic there but I knew my colleagues would be coming soon.

“At that stage, I still didn’t have a handle on what had happened or where, or how many people were involved. Just outside the foyer there were some people with very, very serious injuries, consistent with a bomb – severe impact and shrapnel wounds to multiple parts of their body.”

Fears that there could be another explosive device nearby meant Mr Ennis and two colleagues were initially the only paramedics allowed on the scene.

He arrived within minutes of the first calls being made to the emergency services, which were made seconds after suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his device.  

It was already a busy evening for Manchester emergency services, with 40 999 calls waiting to be answered. In the minutes after the attack, the screen displaying the list of calls went into overdrive, with alerts flashing the words “Manchester Arena” and “Explosion”.

Mr Ennis immediately jumped in his ambulance car and began the mile-long journey to the arena.

Arriving at the venue, he began treated the walking wounded who had suffered cuts from the shrapnel with which the bomb was packed.

Police officers informed him that there were more serious casualties inside and the paramedic headed into the foyer..

Describing the scene as “surreal” and “worse than any of us could have imagined”, Mr Ennis added: “I’m an experienced paramedic and we have training for this kind of situation, but I don’t think you could ever be prepared for seeing anything like that. I certainly didn’t feel prepared for what I saw when I walked in there – just the scale of it was overwhelming.

“I’m sure there was a split-second when I took the scene in and froze, but there was no time for a thought process. I was just hit by a wave of devastation and then realised I was being shouted and screamed at. People had seen me and they obviously wanted help.”

Presented with “between 30 and 40” people who were seriously injured and in desperate need to help, the paramedic said he initially ignored those screaming, thinking that if they were able to make a noise then they were likely not the most severely hurt.

“There were people screaming in pain and people terrified”, he said. “But you have to ignore them because if they’re screaming the airways are open and you know they can breathe, so you are reassured by the fact they are relatively OK for now, although they had horrendous injuries.

“The first priority was the quiet patients and my initial assessment was there were around ten people who were not moving, but that changed as time went by. Unfortunately for some, my assessment was they were beyond any help we could provide. They were already dead.”

The paramedic was presented to the Queen when she visited Manchester last week, but has otherwise sought to deal with what he called his “very strange and awful experience” in private.

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