British firefighters have expressed their anger at being blocked from helping Manchester terror attack victims as the deadly bombing event unfolded on Monday.
According to a joint letter written by the Fire Brigade’s Union, firefighters were only allowed to deploy to the incident 90 minutes after it had occurred – despite being less than one mile from the scene.
The delay could have cost people their lives, according to furious firefighters, and has caused extreme “guilt, shame and anger” among crews who feel they were rendered useless during the crucial early stages of the terrorist attack.
Dailyrecord.co.uk reports: In a letter shared by Save the UK Fire Service one wrote: “I would personally like to apologise to the people of Manchester, the victims and their families because I was part of a service that you depend on and we weren’t there when you needed us….
“We pleaded with our high ranking officers to let us go but that got declined on numerous occasions.”
It went on: “The past few nights I have felt nothing but guilt, feeling ashamed and feeling let down by senior officers who didn’t have the balls to commit us. ”
“Young children were dying and we weren’t there to help.
“I did not sign up to the best job in the world to turn my back!
“ I have personally had numerous fatalities before, that being fires, rtcs, cardiac arrests etc…. But felt no guilt because I tried my best….. Not this time…..
“We were only 1/2 a mile away from helping. 1/2 a mile away from potentially saving lives and this will always stick with me forever.
“Personally I’m now feeling guilt, ashamed and angry.”
One firefighter appeared to suggest that bosses did not believe the scene was ‘safe’.
Paramedics with the North West Ambulance Service were told this – but all volunteered to go in regardless, it was claimed.
The firefighter added: “However, they were extremely short on manpower and could not cope.
“Eventually, members of the public and the police were helping, carrying out injured people on makeshift stretchers.”
“Meanwhile, my colleague, a very experience crew manager was held back from helping, not deployed at all.
“Along with the rest of your staff he was sat doing nothing at Manchester Central fire station.
“He questioned a senior managers about this at the time and was told that ‘I have no answers’.”
The Record understands the emergency services at the scene ran out of stretchers and some victims were removed on pieces of advertising boards.
Another firefighter told of having “well-trained, enthusiastic and professional” trauma technicians who were left “unutilised” on the night.
Andy Burnham said he is “aware of concerns from firefighters about the speed of the response to the terror attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday night.”
He added: “I am taking these concerns seriously and, at the appropriate time, they will be subject to a full evaluation and briefing.
“But they have to be seen in context. Large numbers of highly-trained professionals were on site within minutes providing support to people.
“I could not be more proud of all of Greater Manchester’s emergency services who, over the last 48 hours, have gone to incredible lengths to carry the city through this dark time.”
Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigade’s Union, said he has met “directly” with members over the incident and has received a “full briefing”.
The firefighter’s letter in full
A heartfelt reply to Manchester from one of its own firefighters…
I have been a firefighter for nearly ten years now in Manchester and I have never ever felt so much guilt in all my life. I was one of the first crews who got turned out to the tragic event in Manchester the other evening.
We stood around and were not given any updates. We got most of the information from news updates even though we were at an rendezvous point with high ranking senior fire officers.
What must of been at least two hours went by, two hours of not keeping still, pacing up and down the station forecourt, watching numerous paramedics from as far away as East Midlands turning up and being deployed whilst we just stood around doing nothing.
Even a paramedic lady came to us pleading, stating she had just taken a young girl to hospital trying to save her life but sadly she was one of the tragic victims of this horrid attack.
She was begging us, pleading with us to help, because they needed it. Help in getting the casualties away from danger, help with triage and help with carrying victims.
The past few nights I have felt nothing but guilt, feeling ashamed and feeling let down by senior officers who didn’t have the balls to commit us.
Young children were dying and we weren’t there to help. I did not sign up to the best job in the world to turn my back!!!!!! I have personally had numerous fatalities before, that being fires, rtcs, cardiac arrests etc…. But felt no guilt because I tried my best….. Not this time…..
We were only 1/2 a mile away from helping. 1/2 a mile away from potentially saving lives and this will always stick with me forever. Personally I’m now feeling guilt, ashamed and angry.
I would personally like to apologise to the people of Manchester, the victims and their families because I was part of a service that you depend on and we weren’t there when you needed us….
We pleaded with our high ranking officers to let us go but that got declined on numerous occasions.
Manchester I and a number of firefighters are so so sorry we didn’t do more to help you in your hour of need.
Please please forgive your firefighters who were begging to help…..
From an experienced Manchester firefighter who is ashamed of our response. Sorry xx”
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