Student paramedic who led Manchester bombing medical efforts hailed as ‘hero’ at inquiry

Conrad Duncan
·2 min read
<p>Twenty-two people were killed in the terror attack at Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Twenty-two people were killed in the terror attack at Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017

(AFP via Getty Images)

A student paramedic who began the initial triage of casualties on the night of the Manchester Arena terror attack has been hailed as a hero for his efforts in the emergency response.

Ryan Billington put his training from university and work placements into practice at the scene of the explosion in 2017, when he also took charge of transporting the injured to ambulances.

Mr Billington, who was 20 years old on the night of the attack, was one of a number of first aiders on shift at the venue when Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Inquiry chair Sir John Saunders said on Wednesday that the then-student was one of “a number of heroes” from the attack, which killed 22 people and injured hundreds of others.

The witness, who now works for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), said that he started to assess the injuries of those at the scene shortly after the blast but also treated people and directed others to use makeshift stretchers.

“I appreciate that we should be triaging first without providing any treatment,” Mr Billington told the public inquiry into the attack.

“I couldn't just stand there and not treat people. I instructed everybody, families, police, anybody there that was able to carry a person to use whatever they could to start getting patients to ambulances if possible.”

He also told counsel to the inquiry, Paul Greaney QC, that he stayed in the City Room for “as long as I could until I believed all the patients, or the majority of the patients, that were still alive were downstairs near the casualty clearing area.”

Although Mr Billington said he had previously received training on dealing with blast injuries and the triage process, he noted that this had not come from his then-employers, Emergency Training UK (ETUK), who carried out medical services for the arena's operator SMG.

“I don't believe a first aid at work course which is geared to help me treat my colleague that has cut a finger at their desk was anywhere near as much training as somebody should receive who is going to go on and deal with a major incident,” he told the inquiry.

“So triage on the evening was greatly myself trying to tell first aiders that were not versed in triage and did not have any idea of the concept of it.”

The witness added that he did not feel he was sufficiently trained to be a clinical lead in the situation but he remained in charge until an advanced paramedic from the NWAS arrived.

“On behalf of the families, who have particularly asked me to say this, they are grateful for the work you did, the heroic work you did and you should be very proud of yourself,” John Cooper QC, representing the bereaved families, told Mr Billington.

The inquiry into the attack continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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