12 Apr Manchester Arena bomb inquiry hears parents of injured girl forced to dress her wounds in their clothes | UK News
A mother and father carried their injured daughter away from the Manchester Arena bomb carnage with her wounds covered in makeshift bandages from their clothing, a hearing has been told.
The official inquiry is being held into what happened on the evening an Islamist extremist detonated a shrapnel-laden homemade device as people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert.
Twenty-three people died, including the suicide attacker Salman Abedi, and more than 800 were wounded, some of them children, following the explosion on 22 May 2017.
Dr Darah Burke, a GP who had been injured himself, told proceedings he, his wife Ann and daughter Catherine were only caught up in the blast after deciding to leave the show early to avoid the rush because it was a school night and they wanted to get their 10-year-old home after her first big concert.
Dr Burke described a “sudden loud bang, very loud” and said he was thrown forward into a crouching position.
“It seemed dark. There was debris in the air.
“Ann was stood up, not straight, crouching somehow, and Catherine was on the floor screaming basically.
“She couldn’t stand up. We tried to lift her up. In the event, I’m not sure if we carried or dragged Catherine but we managed to leave.
“Catherine said she couldn’t see, and her eyes were screwed closed.”
Dr Burke said he took off his shirt to use as a bandage as she was bleeding.
“I didn’t have anything to hand. I had a t-shirt and a shirt on, so I took the shirt off and applied it to her arm. Ann had a coat on and she took that off and put round her legs.”
Dr Burke said his daughter was responding and was not in immediate danger although she had bleeding from her head, and he decided to go back into the scene of the explosion.
“Everything was pretty dark. I approached two casualties. I remember crouching down to them and looking to the rest of the City Room and shouting and people were starting to stand and potentially to provide assistance.”
It was at that point he realised he had a shrapnel injury to his left buttock and an injury to his right leg which he subsequently found to be a fractured femur, as well as a piece of shrapnel lodged in the muscle.
“I think that was causing me a lot of pain. I went back to my family.”
His wife had suffered a shrapnel injury to her thigh and to her heel bone that had made a deep wound.
Catherine suffered 16 separate shrapnel injuries to her arms and legs and permanent deafness in her right ear.
Eventually an off-duty doctor came to help them redress Catherine’s injuries, using a first aid kit, but the dressings in it were “small and thin” and like something in an off-the-shelf shop-bought first aid kit – inadequate for the job, said Dr Burke.
He went on that his family waited for three and a half hours before they were taken to hospital and in that time Catherine had deteriorated and was starting to shiver.
“She wasn’t as responsive as she had been. My judgment was becoming clouded at that point,” he told the hearing.
It was “getting on towards 2am” when a police officer or paramedic told them there were buses to take them to hospital but they had to explain that Catherine couldn’t walk.
“They attempted to sit her up and she became light-headed and was screaming in pain. It became apparent it was not going to be possible to get Catherine to a bus further down the road.”
She was eventually helped on to a bus which took Catherine and Ann to Bolton Royal Infirmary.
They then spent two weeks in a room together in the Royal Manchester Children’s hospital.
The GP criticised the lack of proper dressings and foldable stretchers but praised the “highly professional, caring and respectful manner” of the emergency responders, “despite the unusual and stressful circumstances in which they found themselves”.
“We are very grateful for their actions and compassion,” he said.