The youngest victim of the Manchester Arena terror attack asked paramedics “am I going to die?”, the public inquiry into the May 2017 suicide bombing has heard.
Eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos suffered massive blood loss from shrapnel wounds to her legs caused by the explosion in the City Room foyer of the venue following an Ariana Grande concert.
The youngster had earlier enjoyed “the night of her life” singing and dancing, the inquiry was told, as she watched her idol perform.
Saffie-Rose was just five metres away from Salman Abedi as he detonated his device as she walked across the City Room with her mother, Lisa, and sister, Ashlee Bromwich, both also injured in the blast.
Member of the public Paul Reid initially tended to and reassured her as she asked for her mother and also what had happened. He went on to stay by her side for more than 30 minutes before she was eventually placed into an ambulance outside the adjoining Victoria railway station.
An off-duty nurse, Bethany Crook, also joined them as Saffie-Rose started to slip in and out of consciousness before they, with a number of British Transport Police officers, carried her out of the City Room on an advertising board.
Ms Crook stated she was “surprised” to find no ambulance or additional medical staff waiting when they arrived outside at the Trinity Way exit of the station, the inquiry was told.
A number of police officers discussed putting Saffie-Rose into the back of a police vehicle and driving her to hospital but Ms Crook said the youngster would not survive the journey without “proper care and stability”.
Eventually a passing ambulance en route to an agreed rendezvous point, situated away from the arena, came after it was flagged down by an officer shouting and waving on the pavement.
The inquiry heard that North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) paramedic Gillian Yates recalled Saffie-Rose asking her in the back of the ambulance: “Am I going to die?”
She said: “That was all Saffie-Rose said. She was not engaging in conversation with us.
“I tried to reassure her but when people ask this question it is a bad sign as it is usually asked by people who are really ill, and the fact she was asking it concerned me greatly.”
Her colleague, NWAS emergency medical technician Gemma Littler, said she knew as soon as she saw the patient on the ambulance that they would lose her.
She stated: “I reassured her she was safe, that we were going to hospital and we would look after her. I did what I could for her. I reassured her as much as I could even when she asked me if she was going to die.
“I responded in what I hope is the most reassuring way possible for her to hear.”
The ambulance arrived at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital at 11.23pm – 52 minutes after the bombing – but Saffie-Rose was pronounced dead at 11.40pm.
Ms Bromwich stated to the inquiry that her younger sister had “the night of her life” watching Grande perform.
She said: “She was elated. She partied the night away and she was in her element.”
Saffie-Rose’s father, Andrew Roussos, stated he had never seen his daughter so excited before she left their family home in Leyland, Lancashire, for the concert.
He said: “She was on cloud nine.”
This week the inquiry is looking into the circumstances of the death of Saffie-Rose, with a number of experts in disagreement about whether she could have survived her injuries.
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