Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ON THE 7/7 REPORT

The 7/7 Report came out yesterday.
Rescuers trying to save victims of the July 7 terrorist attacks struggled with poor communications, lack of medical equipment and weak planning, an official report has concluded.

One hospital was alerted only when paramedics went begging for help. Not enough ambulances were available to deal with casualties and a vital radio system for London Underground is still not in place.

The highly critical review by the London Assembly, published yesterday, praises the work of the rescue services but says that they faced difficulties which should never have arisen four years after 9/11. The review calls for a wide-ranging overhaul of plans for major incidents and criticises a strategy which placed too much emphasis on the rescue process and not enough on the victims. In all, 56 people died and 946 were injured when four suicide bombers attacked three London Underground trains, at Aldgate, Edgware Road and Russell Square, and a bus in Tavistock Square.

But the review, which makes 54 recommendations, found that despite all the preparation in London after 9/11, "there is a lack of consideration of the individuals caught up in major or catastrophic incidents".

It adds: "Procedures tend to focus too much on incidents rather than on individuals and on processes rather than people."
I can understand people panicking and making mistakes on the day, but whose bright idea was this?
The review members were concerned to discover that vital London Underground emergency response vehicles which had to respond to the incidents have to pay the congestion charge, have no blue lights and are banned from using bus lanes.
Despite all of this, and in keeping with the views of most I've spoken to who were caught up in the events of Central London that day, the report highlights the many extraordinary efforts made by those at the front line:
3.22 We are in no doubt whatsoever that individual members of the London Ambulance Service, along with the other transport and emergency services, worked extremely hard, under exceptionally difficult circumstances, on 7 July. Their many individual acts of courage, skill and initiative led to the saving of many lives that may otherwise have been lost.

All four sites were ‘cleared’ within three hours, during which time almost 200 vehicles and 400 staff and managers were deployed, and 404 patients were transported to hospital. The fact that there were four separate incidents across London, and that three of them were in tunnels underground, made the emergency response very complex and difficult to manage systematically and effectively.
You can download the full report here.

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