Ambulance trusts should review their ability to respond to mass casualty incidents and press commissioners for any additional resources they need, the report into the Manchester Arena bombing has said.
Only 7 of the 319 North West Ambulance Service Trust vehicles available on the night of the attack, in 2017, were able to deploy immediately, the report said. It said experts believed that “such a situation would almost inevitably be replicated if a similar incident were to occur again anywhere in the country”, given current resources and demand.
Ambulance trusts are now hugely more stretched than in 2017, with response times having significantly lengthened due to lack of resources.
The second volume of the report from the inquiry, chaired by Sir John Saunders, published today, is critical of the emergency services’ response to the bombing which killed 22 people. NWAS “failed to send sufficient paramedics into the City Room [an area adjoining the Arena]” and did not use available stretchers to remove casualties in a safe way, it says. A key role for managing the incident – that of ambulance intervention team commander – was not allocated for half an hour.
But it also raised issues of ambulance capacity and availability for major incidents involving mass casualties. “Around the UK, ambulance services are always ’playing catch up,’” it said, with no spare frontline capacity.
With demand doubling over the last 10 years, the inability to respond to such incidents is only going to get worse – and lives will be lost if they do not attend the scene quickly and in sufficient numbers, the report said.
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Source: HSJ, 3 November 2022