We perform a hydrodynamic simulation of a cooling coronal loop and calculate the time-dependent ion populations of the most abundant elements of the solar atmosphere at each time-step. We couple the time-dependent ion balance equations to the hydrodynamic equations in order to treat the energy loss through radiation in a self-consistent way by allowing for the emission from a potentially nonequilibrium ion population.We present results for the response to the changing conditions in the loop of the population of C VII ions and find significant deviations from equilibrium in the coronal and footpoint regions of the loop. The former is due to the tenuous nature of the coronal plasma causing recombinations to be rare and the latter is due to the strong downflows that develop as the loop cools, which carry persistent C VII ions into the lower regions of the loop. We also present a comparison between total plasma emissivity curves calculated during this simulation and an almost identical simulation that assumed an equilibrium ion population for the calculation of the radiation term. As a result of the nonequilibrium ion populations we find significant differences between the emissivity curves of each simulation and the loop cooling times. We suggest that a consideration of nonequilibrium ionisation and radiation might help to (a) explain the thermal broadening observed in some emission lines during explosive events, and (b) reconcile differences between theory and observations relating to the longevity of some loops observed in the TRACE filters.