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Football museum warned staff would be alone in case of terror attack

Written by on 17 November 2020

The National Football Museum was warned before the Manchester Arena bombing that the emergency services might take hours to reach casualties of a terrorist attack.

The museum, which is a few yards from the arena, took part in an emergency exercise in which police warned that staff would probably have to deal with “battlefield injuries” themselves.

The inquiry has heard that only one paramedic entered the City Room foyer where the bomb went off in the first 40 minutes and that the victims had to be carried from the scene on makeshift stretchers by members of the public.

Image:
Attacker Salman Abedi is seen in the foyer wearing all black with partially white trainers

The “table top” exercise, known as Project Argus, was held in central Manchester, organised by Greater Manchester Police.

David Scally, the general manager at the time, told the inquiry into the bombing: “We were given a scenario and were in groups and would say what we would do in the event of an attack.

“What we found was that the emergency services wouldn’t respond immediately and we could be left alone as a business for up to two hours, or maybe longer, if the area wasn’t secure and we would have to be ready to treat battlefield injuries.”

The exercise team recommended that the museum get “grab bags” of medical supplies, including tourniquets, to stop victims bleeding out from leg and arm injuries.

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However, the venue, which operates as a charity, could not afford them, Mr Scally said.

Emergency services respond to the Manchester Arena terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017
Image:
Emergency services responding to the Manchester Arena terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert

“We priced them up but in the end we upgraded some of the items we had at key points,” he added.

The team was expecting to have to treat “a few dozen” casualties, depending on the nature of the injuries, and planned to use table cloths as tourniquets, he said.

Several “front of house” staff had already been on a two-day first aid course that included how to apply bandages and tourniquets.

Pete Weatherby QC, for the victims’ families, asked if he was told there may be a period in which the emergency services have to “standoff” and they would have to “cope”.

John Cooper QC, for 12 of the victim’s families, asked whether the museum considered buying stretchers.

Manchester Arena terror attack inquiry: Who were the victims?

Manchester Arena terror attack inquiry: Who were the victims?

“We thought they would be treated in place, I don’t think we considered moving them from the scene,” he said.

The inquiry continues.