Mother of Manchester victim Martyn Hett praises Kerslake report

Figen Murray says handbook should be created for families affected by future attacks

The mother of a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing has praised the Kerslake report on the response to the suicide attack, and said a handbook should be created for families affected by future attacks.

Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett, 29, died in the explosion along with 21 other people, said the report gave a voice to the families of the victims.

“The purposes of these kind of reports are to look at what went really well and, you know, give credit where credit is due. There were amazing accounts of personal heroism but also people in positions of authority who decided to override their rules and procedures and actually just act humanely.

Figen Murray
Figen Murray: ‘There were amazing accounts of personal heroism.’ Photograph: Sky News

“They let the rulebook go and just did what they could as a human being,” she told Sky news.

Murray also spoke of the desperation and anguish caused by the failure of Vodafone’s emergency phone system in the aftermath of the attack. She frantically called the emergency phone number advertised for worried family members in the wake of the blast but only got through after several attempts.

“I tried like so many others to phone that number that was given initially on the television, and probably 26 times I phoned until I got through, and Martyn’s friends frantically went from hospital to hospital trying to find him because a lot of them were at the arena, with him. Obviously, they were waiting and he didn’t come out so they were frantically looking,” she told the BBC.

Murray was also critical of a journalist who told her daughter about Hett’s death just eight hours after the attack, before authorities had even confirmed it.

“This journalists basically said: ‘My condolences, sorry for the loss of your brother. Do you want to talk to us about your brother?

• The Greater Manchester fire and rescue service did not arrive at the scene and therefore played “no meaningful role” in the response to the attack for nearly two hours.

•  A “catastrophic failure” by Vodafone seriously hampered the set-up of a casualty bureau to collate information on the missing and injured, causing significant distress to families as they searched for loved ones and overwhelming call handlers at Greater Manchester police.

•  Complaints about the media include photographers who took pictures of bereaved relatives through a window as the death of their loved ones was being confirmed, and a reporter who passed biscuit tin up to a hospital ward containing a note offering £2,000 for information about the injured.

•  A shortage of stretchers and first aid kits led to casualties being carried out of the Arena on advertising boards and railings.

•  Armed police patrolling the building dropped off their own first aid kits as they secured the area.

•  Children affected by the attack had to wait eight months for mental health support.

“We weren’t officially told until that evening he’d died. I think it is quite outrageous, clearly she looked like a child, that this person didn’t say ‘are your parents at home? Is there any adult in house?’ But to put a young person in that position is unforgivable, really, it’s unethical, totally unethical.”

Rob Grew, a member of public who helped care for the injured and dying, told the BBC that there were not enough emergency staff present in the immediate aftermath of the blast.

“Even for the first moments that we were in there, until about 40 minutes of trying to deal with people, I was on my own just trying to do my best. And it was the same for any other member of the public who had gone in there to help. They were just by themselves,” he said.

“There was one lady in the foyer who was barely conscious whilst I was there and she passed away next to me whilst I was trying to attend to someone else.

“A lot of us had just gone round and put tourniquets on. A lot of people reassuring people. But that’s as far as it went until we decided that we just got to get people out and we started dismantling T-shirt stands, metal barriers, anything we could use just to haul them on,” he added.


Patrick Greenfield

The GuardianTramp

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