The capital’s transport and emergency planning authorities are facing calls to review training and their handling of major incidents after 7/7 coroner Lady Justice Hallett published a series of recommendations which she hoped “may save lives” in event of a incident.
Ruling that the 52 victims of the bomb attacks of July 7 2005 were unlawfully killed, the coroner found that “on the balance of probabilities” none would have survived had the emergency services reached them sooner.
Lady Justice Hallett praised the response of emergency workers and ordinary Londoners saying: “At each and every scene ordinary men and women, whether victims of the attack, passers by or those acting in the course of their professional duties, reacted with extraordinary courage, composure and compassion.
“The demands upon the emergency responders were great and, regardless of their experience, whether probationers or seasoned professionals, whether fire-fighters, paramedics, or policemen, off duty or on, all were equal to the task.”
Despite her findings that no organisation is to blame for the fatalities, the coroner’s report includes recommendations for reviews of how Transport for London is alerted to major incidents and the way it informs other agencies about incidents on its network.
TfL is also asked to consider whether first aid equipment could be installed on Tube trains and review procedures for confirming to emergency services that power to the Underground has been switched off and it was safe to go onto the tracks.
Notwithstanding the recommendations, Lady Justice Hallett’s report accepts that “considerable progress” has been made by the capital’s emergency and transport organisations in the six years since 7/7.
The report says “much of the credit for such progress rests with the 7th July Review Committee of the London Assembly” which was published in June 2006.
Responding to the recommendations, Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy praised the way TfL workers responded, including their efforts to return the bus network to use on the day of the attacks and the majority of the Tube by the following morning.
Mr Hendy said TfL “recognise that everything should be done to ensure that, should similar events ever happen again, we and all our partner agencies are in a position to respond in the most effective way possible.
“We therefore welcome the recommendations of the Coroner, and agree wholeheartedly that the issues raised warrant further scrutiny. This will contribute further to the great deal of work already done, and we will now be studying the recommendations in detail. We will publish our full response to the recommendations in due course.”
The coroner has also called on the London Ambulance Service and London Air Ambulance to review staff training for dealing with triage at incidents with multiple casualties and for the Mayor, London Resilience Team and Department of Health to consider the funding of the Air Ambulance which currently relies on donations and corporate funding.
Both the Ambulance Service and Fire Brigade has said they will “carefully consider” the recommendations and work with other agencies to examine how responses can be improved.