Manchester attack: Saffie-Rose Roussos 'could have survived with better first aid'

By Judith Moritz
North of England correspondent

Published
media captionExpert’s report finds eight-year-old Saffie ‘could have been saved’ if treated properly for her injuries

The youngest victim of the Manchester Arena attack might have survived if she had received better first aid, a report commissioned by her family suggests.

Eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos died as a result of losing too much blood from injuries to her legs.

It has emerged that no-one used simple tourniquets or splints to apply pressure and reduce the bleeding.

Previously, experts commissioned by the Manchester Arena Inquiry found that Saffie's injuries were not survivable.

This new information has come to light because lawyers representing the Roussos family commissioned different experts to look into the circumstances of her death. They believe that Saffie might have survived.

For the past three years, Saffie's parents have believed that she was killed instantly in the explosion. They say they drew comfort from thinking that she had not suffered. Now they have been told that their daughter lived for over an hour, and that opportunities were missed to help her.

The family has also discovered that Saffie asked a paramedic, "am I going to die?" as she was being taken to hospital by ambulance.

Saffie's father, Andrew Roussos, told the BBC: "She could have been saved."

He added: "How do we carry on living with this information? How can we carry on breathing with this information?

"I can't look at Saffie's picture. Since I've read this report, I can't look at her."

image captionLisa and Andrew Roussos have launched a charity to help families affected by terror attacks

The new report is based on evidence that includes witness statements, as well as CCTV footage and body-worn cameras from the emergency services.

Previously, the family thought that Saffie died on the floor of the Manchester Arena foyer, where the bomb exploded on 22 May 2017.

Now they have learned that she was not knocked unconscious.

The report has found that, moments after the blast, Saffie lifted her head and tried to push herself up with her arms. She is said to have been given water, and to have asked for her mum.

Several people tried to help Saffie but though she was bleeding heavily from serious leg injuries, nobody used a tourniquet, or splint to apply pressure and reduce the bleeding.

Saffie was lifted on to an advertising hoarding and some railings, which were used as a makeshift stretcher.

She was the first person to be carried out of the foyer, but there was no ambulance outside, and one had to be flagged down.

The report commends the actions of the people who tried to get her to hospital as quickly as possible.

But it has found that the ambulance did not have all the necessary equipment on board.

'She knew what was happening'

Distressing detail has emerged about Saffie's time inside the ambulance.

She is said to have been agitated, and pulling at her oxygen mask. She was able to speak and asked whether she was going to die.

Mr Roussos says: "Medically trained people were with her. And she was asking for help. She knew what was happening. And she bled to death.

"Eight year olds don't ask those questions. Doesn't matter how hurt they are, they want their mum. They want to be treated, they want to be out of pain. Not to be in the sound mind to ask the paramedic whether she's going to die."

The report has found that the ambulance crew did not use tourniquets or splints on Saffie's injuries, and neither did the medical team at hospital, when Saffie arrived at A&E.

It also says that it is unclear why the trauma team at the hospital didn't begin a surgical procedure called a "thoracotomy" to stop the bleeding.

image copyrightAFP
image captionSaffie's idol was Ariana Grande

Saffie was pronounced dead at the hospital at 11.40pm, more than an hour after the attack. The report says that because the bleeding was left unchecked, it resulted in a critical level of blood loss to the point at which the heart was no longer able to beat, and it could not be restarted.

Mr Roussos says: "Our medical experts have suggested that there were procedures that Saffie could have had and she didn't. She was losing that much blood. And there wasn't a successful procedure in place to get that blood into Saffie - even in A&E. Why?"

The Roussos family say that they cannot understand why two sets of experts have reached different opinions about Saffie's survivability.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry is about to begin its phase of hearing evidence about the emergency response to the attack, in which 22 people died when a suicide bomb exploded.

In the months ahead, Saffie's parents will hear evidence from the people who were with their daughter in her last moments.

They have told the BBC that they want the public inquiry to get to the full truth about what happened to their little girl.

Saffie, from Leyland, Lancashire, was at an Ariana Grande concert with her mother, Lisa, and sister, Ashlee Bromwich, when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in a large foyer filling with people after it ended on 22 May 2017.

The inquiry is looking at whether the attack could have been prevented, what happened on that night, the security arrangements around the arena, the emergency response to the bombing and the radicalisation of bomber Abedi.

Last year the inquiry, which began in September, heard how each of the 22 individual victims died as well as personal evidence about them from their families.

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