Manchester Arena inquiry: Ways to improve response of emergency services

Inquiry advice includes reviews of police funding and ambulance trusts’ responses to mass casualties, and medical staff based at venues

The Manchester Arena inquiry chairman, Sir John Saunders, delivered a scathing report on the response of the emergency services to the terror attack at the arena in May 2017 and outlined key failures, recommending solutions. Here are some of his points for service improvements.

Police funding

The inquiry found austerity cuts had a “significant impact on the ability of Greater Manchester police to provide an adequate public service in certain respects”. The Home Office should consider the different arrangements for funding police services if a similar programme of budgetary cuts and austerity occurs in future.

Trauma training

Police should have trauma training so they can provide life-saving treatment and do not find themselves in the position that the unarmed officers did arriving at the Manchester Arena. Those officers wanted to help casualties but did not have the necessary training. The same applied to security guards.

Communication between emergency services

During the Manchester Arena attack almost no one could get through to the mobile of the police force’s duty officer. The Home Office, College of Policing, Fire Service College and National Ambulance Resilience Unit should consider together whether an app giving ready access to the contact details for all on-duty and on-call commanders is feasible and, if so, likely to be of benefit in the response to a major incident.

Large venues

The inquiry found that in-house healthcare provision at the Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017 was inadequate. Establishments of a similar size must have a reasonable number of adequately trained and equipped medical staff on hand to give emergency care to bridge the gap before ambulance and fire and rescue services arrive.


Ambulance service trusts should review their capacity to respond to a mass casualty incident. That should include an assessment of whether they have enough trained specialist personnel to respond effectively to a mass casualty incident, including enough people to drive ambulances to hospital. Consideration should be given to the training of other emergency service personnel in driving ambulances.

On the night of the Arena attack only seven of the 319 North West Ambulance Service vehicles available that night were able to deploy straight away.

First aid

The Home Office and College of Policing should ensure that all newly recruited and existing police officers and all frontline police staff, such as Police Community Support Officers, are trained in first responder intervention. The Home Office should consider the introduction of a public education programme to educate the public in first responder interventions.


Government departments should conduct a review to ensure that people-carrying stretchers that are appropriate in design and adequate in number are always available for use by the emergency services and in appropriate locations in the event of a mass casualty incident.

Public access trauma kits

The Department of Health and Social Care should take steps to ensure that public-access trauma kits are easy to find in public spaces and contain the equipment necessary to enable first responder interventions. The kits, which have basic instructions, are designed to be ready for use, even by untrained members of the public.


Helen Pidd North of England editor

The GuardianTramp

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