Manchester Bombing, May 2107

“I saw people running and my initial response was to go the same way, but then something kicked in”

The selfless British Transport Police staff ran towards danger to help those injured in the terror attack

 

By Katie Butler, Manchester Evening News

 

21:21, 30 MAY 2017

Updated 00:04, 31 MAY 2017

 

‘Can you help my mummy?’

These were the chilling words heard by one of the very first emergency service workers as he ran into the wretched misery of Monday’s horrific bomb attack. Selfless men and women working for British Transport Police have told the MEN of the harrowing scenes which continue to haunt them. Despite the devastating events of the night they have said they would do it all over again.

Here they tell their stories.

PCSO Mark Penshaw and PCSO Jane Bridgewater (Photo: Manchester Evening News)

PCSO Mark Renshaw was the first officer at the scene. He has been with BTP for five years starting as a special constable. Before that he was a mental health support worker.

Mark, 24, recalled: “I heard an extremely loud explosion that literally shook me, everything shook. I saw people running and screaming and my initial response was to go the same way they were all running, but something kicked in and I ran through the barriers up the steps and into the foyer.

“It was pretty obvious what had happened. I remember screaming down my radio to get my colleagues and first aiders here.”

He ran outside to get first aid packs and ran back into the scene.

He added: “There was a little girl there. She tapped me on my vest and said, ‘Can you help my mummy?’. I walked around, she was by the steps. There was nothing I could do to save her.

“So I picked her up, walked her out of the station and passed her to GMP. Then I went back up the stairs and tried to resuscitate two other people but they both died on me.

“Then I helped a 12-year-old girl who had quite a lot of wounds to her legs. Her mum was giving the initial first aid. My colleagues were doing the same then we started taking people outside.”

They did this for two hours – using items in the building as makeshift stretchers.

He then went outside and found the 12-year-old with her mum and stayed with them for three hours until they were taken away in an ambulance.

He added: “We’re just there to help and I don’t think we thought about anything else. I remember hearing there might have been a secondary device, I didn’t know where it was but I was there to help.

“I was scared, but I couldn’t have stood outside the station thinking ‘I’m safe here’ when there were people inside who I could have been helping. I would have regretted that. I have no regrets.

“We were all determined to do what we could, and I’m sure we would do the same again.”

His colleague PC Jane Bridgewater, from Accrington, was in the city centre at the time of the explosion and arrived within minutes.

She ran straight into the foyer and got straight to work giving first aid to the victims.

Jane, 44, said: “We saw what we saw, and then went individual to individual, giving first aid and resuscitation. I stayed with people, trying to keep them awake and then did anything and everything to get them out.”

She said she was scared for her own safety but said she had a job to do.

 

Pictured (l-r) – PC Tom Campbell, PC Dale Edwards, and PC Dannielle Ayers (Photo: Manchester Evening News)

BTP officers Tom Campbell, Danielle Ayers and Dale Edwards arrived at the arena just minutes after blast.

Danielle and Tom went to Trinity Way and Dale pulled into the taxi rank at Victoria Station.

They each tended to victims inside the foyer of the arena – the centre of the explosion.

Dale, 33, from Manchester, said: “On the way there, there was mention of a bomb. I pulled up into the taxi rank at Victoria station and there were loads of young children and parents covered in blood and that is when I thought there could be a bomb here.”

Danielle, 29, from Preston, said: “Everyone was just flooding out of the tunnel. I got out of the van before it even stopped and just ran as fast as I could into the sitting rooms area and went up the stairs into the foyer, and we looked at each other and just went, ‘oh my god!’.

“It was still smokey, people were so badly injured.”

“There’s no amount of training that can prepare you for what we were all faced with. You just go into autopilot.”

They each tended to the victims of the attack.

Danielle added: “I went to the people on the floor to see if there was anything I could do to help them. But some were beyond the help we could have given. I found someone and did first aid on her. I did CPR but unfortunately she died.”

They were told through their radios there could be a secondary device, but they bravely carried on looking after victims.

Danielle added: “I took my ear piece out and carried on doing first aid.”

They improvised with items in the building as make-shift stretchers to try and get as many people out as quickly as possible to paramedics.

She added: “We were bringing person after person out.

“You don’t think twice about it at the time. You just do it. It’s only afterwards you think there were thousands of people running away and we didn’t know what we were running into essentially. But we had to do it.”

Dale said since the attack they have been struggling to comprehend what has happened.

Dale added: “I’ve got a little girl myself and picturing my own daughter in that situation is difficult. But we are getting on and trying to get back to normal.”

He said Northern Rail and arena staff were incredible on the night.

They said the public reaction has been overwhelming.

 

PC Phil Healy with Mojo the dog (Photo: Manchester Evening News)

 

BTP officer Phil Healy and Police Dog Mojo were the first search team there searching for potentially a second bomb.

They searched the area for 90 minutes to ensure it was safe for paramedics and police to enter the building.

Phil, 46, from Athert on, said: “As I went into the foyer that’s where you saw all the casualties, paramedics, public working their hardest. You could tell this was a major incident.

“I was taken further up which is towards the sitting rooms which is then where I started doing all the clearance to make sure there was nothing else there that’s not detonated and could be of danger to anybody else.

“I had to clear where the blast zone was, so unfortunately the deceased were there, and had to work around them in case one of the other deceased may have been carrying a suicide vest. There might have been another bomb, we don’t know.

“I’ve been haunted by visions over the last week but I am coming to terms with it and unfortunately it’s one of those things where you have to try and de-personalise it because I have a job to do.

“In order to get through it and check everything to make it safe so that all the responders that have already been there and paramedics that are still coming, and helping, they’re not at risk of a second device going off.”

Speaking about seven-year-old Mojo, he said: “It did affect him, you could see it in his face, at one point he kind of looked back at you to say, ‘are we really doing this, dad?’ and it was like unfortunately son, yes we are.

“It’s tough dealing with it all. It’s like a film. But you can turn something like Die Hard off, with this, it’s everyone’s reality.

“The public’s support has been incredible and it’s little things that people do that really mean a lot. We have had people bringing things over to me and also to Mojo. He has had treats for the work he did, he has even been allowed to sit on the sofa.”

 

Originally published on the Manchester Evening News website (31/05/2017)
By Katie Butler, M.E.N. City Centre Blogger