Brave Wigan man ran into the Manchester Arena to aid bombing victims

Wigan man Robert Grew describes the horror he witnessed after running into the Manchester arena foyer to help victims of the terrorist attack...

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 3:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 3:41 pm
Robert Grew was helping people inside the arena before emergency services could arrive

From his city centre apartment, Robert Grew heard a thunderous explosion.

Related: In pictures: When terror came to the streets of WiganRelated: Video: Brave Wigan teen talks about being caught up in Manchester bombingAcross the road from the 30-year-old’s flat in the city’s Green Quarter, was the Manchester Arena and Victoria Station.

Robert’s first thought was that a train had crashed. His second thought was to run to the scene to help.

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Robert Grew is an adventure photographer by day

As a former civil engineer-turned-adventure photographer, he had extensive training in first aid and tending to people with serious injuries, such as fractures incurred during avalanches in the French Alps.

Knowing that scores of people would be badly hurt, and that it would be a while before emergency services arrived, he didn’t hesitate to run to the scene to do whatever he could.

There was no rail disaster as he had predicted. Instead, he stumbled upon the aftermath of a suicide bomber’s evil and cowardly act, and a scene he is unlikely to ever forget.

“It was like a war zone,” said Robert, who recently moved back to Standish.

“You can’t prepare for something like that, it was bizarre. There were bodies scattered everywhere, there was debris all over the floor, there was screaming.”

Indeed, at the last count, police estimate that up to 800 people sustained physical and psychological injuries on that fateful night, including the 22 innocent people murdered.

Despite the terrifying scene, and the very real possibility that the atrocities weren’t yet over, Robert immediately began to help the victims as best he could.

“You couldn’t really do much. There were a lot of fatalities and a lot of people bleeding. A lot of people were unconscious or in such a critical state that you could only comfort them, but I did try to resuscitate one lady, who I don’t think made it.”

He also encountered one of the survivors, Robby Potter, who miraculously cheated death by a millimetre after being hit by a bolt that pierced his heart.

With the aid of police officers, Robert managed to get the injured father to the building’s exit and into an ambulance.

“There were perhaps two other officers there who were treating a lady, one paramedic who worked at the arena, and a few security staff who were the main people who had some sort of first aid training.

“It was a good 20 minutes before we started seeing any other medical staff turning up, and then another 40 before we had the full presence of police and paramedics.”

He went on: “It was a massive shock. What seemed like an age in my mind, was probably only a matter of seconds.

“To go from ‘oh god there’s been a terrorist attack’, to just starting helping out, it’s definitely a knee jerker.”

Robert finished: “Even to this day, it seems surreal. It never sank in. I think it was because I had experience of severe incidents in the past, so I just seemed to get on with the task. But when I got home, I didn’t know who to speak to.”