The London Assembly has today published a report into the response of London’s ‘blue light’ emergency services to last year’s July 7th bombings.
Launching the report at City Hall this morning the Chair of the committee Richard Barnes AM recounted examples of individual heroism and generosity which he said showed “London at it’s humane best”.
However the report criticises the way victims and the public were dealt by systems and processes and finds there is “a lack of consideration of the individuals caught up in major or catastrophic incidents. Procedures tend to focus too much on incidents, rather than on individuals, and on processes rather than people” and warns that a “change of mindset is needed to bring about the necessary shift in focus, from incidents to individuals, and from processes to people”.
The report also highlights failures in the communication infrastructures including the inability of the emergency services and tube staff to properly communicate with one another and a reliance on mobile phones.
More than 50 recommendations are made in the report including:
That the transport authorities and private operators Tubelines and Metronet “negotiate a more rapid rollout of facilities for passengers and train drivers to be able to communicate in the event of an emergency” and “seek to speed up the rollout of the new radio system to enable train drivers to communicate with their line controllers.”
“that the Metropolitan Police Service, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service provide us with an update on the rollout of digital radio systems within their services…so that we can monitor progress towards full implementation of TETRA- based radio communications across London’s emergency services.”
Highlighting the fact that the London Underground Emergency Response Unit does not have blue light status or radios for underground use the committee recommends “Transport for London lobby the Government to obtain blue light status for Emergency Response Unit vehicles” and that the “Emergency Response Unit obtain Airwave radios to be able to communicate underground”.
“that the London Ambulance Service provide us with details of its plans to increase its capacity to deliver supplies and equipment to the sites of major incidents in time for our follow-up review in November 2006”
“that the London Ambulance Service and London Underground review the potential for storing rescue and medical equipment at stations. We request that they report back to us by November 2006 telling us what progress has been made in conducting this review, and what options are under consideration.”
Noting that “Great Ormond Street Hospital was not notified of the incident at Russell Square and only found out about it when paramedics arrived asking for equipment and assistance” the report recommends “that emergency plans be amended to provide for the notification of all hospitals in the vicinity of a major incident, even if they are not designated hospitals with major accident and emergency departments.”
Commenting on the lack of first aid equipment the report says “Transport for London/London Underground should produce a plan for provision of basic first aid kits on trains and at stations” and that TfL “should also consider whether it would be practicable to carry basic first aid kits on buses, and Network Rail operators should produce plans for provision of first-aid kits”
In a statement issued on behalf of the London Resilience Forum Phil Woolas, Minister for Local Government, and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said they would “study the report’s recommendations closely and take on board any additional lessons, whilst never forgetting the professionalism and individual acts of heroism that characterised London’s response to the bombings.”