Sending experienced doctors to scene of terrorist incidents is 'vital'

Bataclan attack medic who treated victims in the orchestra pit as terrorists still held hostages in Paris theatre, tells inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing that sending experienced doctors to the scene of terrorist incidents is ‘vital’

  • Dr Matthieu Langlois was doctor with French counter-terrorism policing unit
  • Was sent to Bataclan theatre after three men opened fire on the crowd in 2015 
  • Manchester Arena inquiry heard many waited more than hour for treatment

A doctor who treated casualties at the Bataclan attack in Paris in 2015 has told the Manchester Arena inquiry it is ‘vital’ to send trained doctors to the scenes of terrorist incidents.

Dr Matthieu Langlois was a physician with the French counter-terrorism policing unit RAID when he was sent to the Bataclan theatre after three men opened fire on the crowd in November 2015.

The inquiry heard that Dr Langlois triaged casualties in the theatre’s orchestra pit, which was classed as a ‘hot zone’ because of the ongoing threat from the terrorists, two of whom remained in the building with hostages on the first floor. 

He also carried out basic lifesaving techniques, including applying tourniquets and compressing wounds, the inquiry heard.  

Today Dr Langlois told the Manchester Arena inquiry it is ‘vital’ to have a trained doctor in the ‘hot zone’ as ‘you need to have very quick and extremely experienced eyes to see all the casualties’ during terrorist incidents.

Soldiers and rescue workers evacuate people after the terror attack in Paris in 2015 

Giving evidence to the inquiry into the bombing in Manchester, which killed 22 people, the doctor said: ‘The objective was to clear, as quickly as possible, the ‘hot zone’ and we did that because all of level zero of the Bataclan was cleared in 35 to 40 minutes, and it was done more than 30 minutes before the neutralisation of the threat.’

The inquiry into the bombing at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017 has heard that many casualties waited more than an hour for treatment amid confusion over whether further attacks were under way.

Three paramedics went into the City Room foyer, where the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, struck, as members of the public and unarmed police officers were forced to move casualties on makeshift stretchers.

Dr Langlois added: ‘One thing I am quite sure of is it is not a job for a junior physician or for paramedics. You need to have very quick and extremely experienced eyes to see all the casualties.’

Emergency teams evacuate people near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris in November 2015

The Glade of Light memorial in tribute to the 22 people murdered in the Manchester Arena terror attack in 2017

Armed officers stood outside the Manchester Arena after terrorist Salman Abedi detonated an explosive in 2017

The inquiry chairman, Sir John Saunders, asked Dr Langlois if there was a risk in doing rapid triage that someone may wrongly be believed to be dead.

He replied: ‘That’s why you need to be experienced.’

The doctor said tactical doctors, who would be sent to the scene of attacks, should have specific training, repeated at very frequent intervals.

While triaging patients at the Bataclan, Dr Langlois also carried out some basic lifesaving techniques, including applying tourniquets and compressing wounds, the inquiry heard.

But he said the priority was to get casualties out of the area quickly.

He added: ‘We know the most important thing is the delay between the point of injury and arrival at a trauma centre.’

The inquiry heard that since the Bataclan attack he had identified learning points including the need for emergency services to co-ordinate with each other.

He said: ‘We need a real operational collaboration between all these teams.’

The terror attacks in Paris were carried out by three separate groups of terrorists and prompted a three-month state of emergency in France – which allowed police to put people under house arrest without trial and to block websites.

The terrorists, who targeted the Stade de France, restaurants and bars along the Canal Saint-Martin and the Bataclan theatre, killed 130 people and injured more than 400.  

The Manchester Arena inquiry continues.

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