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‘Hero’ dad went into Arena after bomb to help injured victims

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A brave dad who walked ‘loops’ around the bomb blast zone at Manchester Arena after the terror attack, helping badly injured casualties for an hour, was hailed a hero by the chairman of the ongoing public inquiry into the atrocity.

Darron Costa, who served for 22 years with the Royal Military Police and worked in Northern Ireland in a forensics role, was at Manchester Victoria railway station to collect his son and his son’s girlfriend from the Ariana Grande concert on the night of May 22, 2017.

Mr Costa said he heard the explosion and ‘started to walk towards it’ despite not knowing whether they were safe.

The inquiry was told on Thursday he used an injured man’s belt and a handbag strap as tourniquets and applied them to the man’s lower legs.

Mr Costa answered the ringing mobile phones of two injured victims, speaking with their relatives and reassuring them, and tried to carry a man lying on the floor with serious leg injuries.

Darron Costa, giving evidence

In his statement to the public inquiry, Mr Costa said he was sadly familiar with the aftermath of bomb explosions and would ‘remain calm in a crisis’.

He had received ‘elements of basic battlefield first aid’ but retired from military service in 2008, the inquiry was told.

“You’re a hero,” Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry, told Mr Costa after hearing his evidence.

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“You did an amazing job. I’m sure everyone is very grateful for what you did.

“It just does show how useful it is for people to have some sort of training so they can give some help in these occasions.”

“Thank you,” Mr Costa replied.

Mr Costa was standing at the bottom of the concourse steps at the station leading up to the City Room, where Salam Abedi detonated the bomb, after arranging to collect his son at 10.30pm.

The Arena attack claimed 22 lives

“Almost immediately after I arrived at the foot of the steps I heard a small explosion,” he said in evidence.

“I saw a little flash of dust and light and I just started to walk towards it.”

Mr Costa entered the City Room and described the scene as ‘one of carnage’.

He said he closed the doors to the area as he went so no one could see the devastation and so the scene could be preserved.

Mr Costa said some members of security staff, who he described as ‘teenagers with yellow tabards on’, were helping the injured, but others ‘didn’t really know what they were doing’.

“From my initial interaction with the people wearing yellow, I believed that they didn’t have any sort of first aid training or if they had, they weren’t using it for whatever reason,” he said.

He said he told some staff members to get water for the injured. Others he instructed to sit with casualties and talk to them to reassure them.

“I told them if people were not responding, you should leave them. If they could communicate, stay with them and provide them with reassurance.

“If you keep somebody talking you have got more chance of them staying alive.”

Mr Costa said he then walked around the City Room assisting the injured, completing ‘several loops’ as he looked to help where he could.

He answered an injured man’s phone when it rang.

Tributes in Manchester after the atrocity

“I spoke to his mother,” Mr Costa said. “She asked me a number of questions.

“The gist of it was ‘do you know what’s going on?'”

He said he told her that her son had been involved in the explosion, but that he ‘looks like he would be okay’.

“She was very calm,” he said, revealing he told her to ring the police and monitor media reports and announcements.

By that time, he said, he knew his son and his son’s girlfriend were safe and unhurt.

Mr Costa told of police officers ripping up Ariana Grande merchandise T-shirts and using them to apply pressure to wounds.

Others, he said, were using defibrillators.

At that point, he said, he believed the ‘cavalry’ had arrived.

“I saw one, I presumed more would be coming,” Mr Costa said.

The inquiry was told he left the City Room – after an hour – as he believed he couldn’t do anymore.

The inquiry also heard evidence from a mum who helped two injured young girls but felt ‘angry and upset’ over the time it took any medic to reach them.

Kim Dick, at the Arena with her husband, Philip, to collect their daughter and granddaughter, said she comforted two young injured girls in the aftermath.

“People were running past us in a panic and no one stopped to help,” she said in her statement. “I was shouting for help.

“I was shouting ‘we need paramedics now’. I was starting to think we would never get help.

“An armed police officer approached me and crouched down by my head. He whispered in my ear telling me they were just checking there were no more bombs and the paramedics were downstairs.”

Mrs Dick said she was ‘not happy’ about the length of time it took for the emergency services to get help to the girls.

“I am angry about this and so upset that it took in excess of an hour before any paramedic or medically-trained person attended to the girls to check on them.”

The public inquiry is currently hearing evidence relating to survivors of the atrocity and will resume next week.

The bombing claimed 22 lives. More than 260 people were physically injured, with 160 requiring hospital treatment.

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