Police force not compliant with first aid training guidelines at time of bombing

Greater Manchester Police was not providing the recommended hours of first aid training at the time of the Manchester Arena attack, inquiry told.

Eleanor Barlow
Tuesday 18 January 2022 18:04
Sir John Saunders, chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry (PA)
Sir John Saunders, chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry (PA)

Greater Manchester Police was not providing the recommended hours of first aid training at the time of the Manchester Arena attack, the inquiry into the bombing has heard.

On Tuesday, the inquiry heard between 2014 and 2020 the force was not compliant with the licensing requirements for the First Aid Learning Programme, because it did not meet the guidelines for the number of hours officers should spend on the training.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Wasim Chaudhry said it was a deliberate decision to provide six hours of training on the first aid skills course, rather than the nine recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

He said: “It was a continuation of the training programme taking place prior to 2013.”

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Wasim Chaudhry (Peter Byrne/PA)

The inquiry also heard at the time of the attack on May 22 2017 officers did not receive refresher training every year as recommended.

Mr Chaudhry said the force was now compliant and offered additional training on the use of tourniquets.

Asked if the additional training had been introduced as a result of evidence heard at the inquiry, he said: “Yes it has. From this inquiry and feedback through this inquiry from our staff in relation to the situation that they faced on the night.”

Assistant Chief Constable Iain Raphael from the College of Policing told the inquiry he believed the college, the professional body for policing, should have more powers to deal with a force which was not complying with requirements for first aid training.

He said: “Albeit they had made a policy decision, this length of time to achieve compliance feels too long.

“I think it would be useful if there were more teeth and more ability to guide compliance in this area.”

He said the training recommendations for all forces were set to be changed to include first responder interventions, such as actions to stop catastrophic bleeding and open airways.

The hearing was told the new training would not come into force until January next year.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders said: “Certainly from police officers we have heard, they were really very keen to have had the information they needed to have given more help to the people at the time and for them to be left in the same situation quite a long time after that now, they might feel a bit let down.”

Mr Raphael said: “I can appreciate that but I would also say already these are operational requirements that any force right now can decide to do.”

The inquiry has been hearing evidence on the issue of the “care gap” – the time taken from when an attack takes place to when medical professionals arrive on scene to treat those injured.

Lieutenant Colonel Claire Park, the major incident lead for London Air Ambulance, told the inquiry the basic life-saving techniques for stopping bleeding and opening airways should be on the National Curriculum.

She said: “These two interventions can easily be taught and can save lives across the board, that’s why, not just in relation to this but in general, I think it’s really important.”

The inquiry has heard many casualties waited more than an hour for treatment amid confusion over whether further attacks were under way after Salman Abedi detonated a bomb after an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people.

Sir John adjourned the hearings until February 14, when the inquiry will hear more evidence about the preventability of the attack.

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