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This article is a subsection of Report of the 7 July Review Committee
2 The first hour:Establishing what happenedEdit
2.1 The first explosion on 7 July took place at 8.50 am on eastbound [[Circle Line train number 204]], travelling from Liverpool Street to Aldgate station. Within one minute, a second explosion took place on a Circle Line train number 216, travelling westbound from Edgware Road to Paddington. A third bomb was detonated approximately two minutes later, ona southbound Piccadilly Line train number 311. At 9.47 am, a fourth bomb was detonated, on the top deck of the Number 30 bus at Tavistock Square. 52 people were murdered, and 700 were physically injured. Many more hundreds of people were directly affected by the attacks, including passengers who were uninjured but potentially traumatised by the experience.
2.2 In the minutes following the explosions on the Tube trains, passengers were plunged into total darkness. They did not know whether anyone knew they were there, or if help was on its way. The internal carriage lights went out, internal communications between the driver and passengers of each train were debilitated, and drivers were unable to communicate with their line control centres.
2.3 For those who were seriously injured, a fast and effective emergency response was vital. For those less seriously injured, and the uninjured, a safe and speedy evacuation was required. Immediately following the explosions, passengers needed to be given information about what had happened, and advice about what to do. For any of these things to happen, the emergency and transport services needed quickly to establish what had happened.
2.4 The overall picture from 8.50 am until about 9.15 am was inevitably chaotic. Multiple, often conflicting, reports were being made, some to London Underground’s Network Control Centre, some to the emergency services, and some to the media. There were reports of loud bangs. There was a loss of power on sections of the Underground. 999 calls were made from nearby locations reporting smoke issuing from tunnels and from a grid in a street close to Edgware Road. It was not clear what had happened, or indeed where.
‘Sitting at Broadway [London Underground Network Control Centre] at 8.52 am
you are virtually blind and you are confused for a while as these multiple reports come in. It would be over-egging our own capabilities to pretend that we have instantaneous appreciation of what is happening. We do not, and the reports that comein conflict with one another’.[note 1]
2.5 The loss of power, combined with reports of loud bangs, led the London Underground Network Control Centre initially to conclude that there had been power surges on the network, and they began to respond to that scenario. Shortly after that, the Network Control Centre received a call stating that a train had been involved, and that the
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emergency services had been called to the scene. It was then thought that the train at Edgware Road had hit the wall of the tunnel, and that there was a person on the track as a result of a derailment.
2.6 By 9.15 am, it had become clear that there had been explosions, though the cause, severity, and precise locations of the explosions were still not known at that point. The London Ambulance Service was initially called to seven separate sites, and ambulances were being deployed to ‘various places that ended up not being the main incident sites’. For some time, it was thought that there may have been up to five separate incidents on the Tube, and the emergency services were being deployed accordingly to five separate Tube stations. At the first news conference of the day, at 11.15am, Sir [[Ian Blair]], Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, was still reporting that there had been six explosions (including the explosion at Tavistock Square).
2.7 Chaos and confusion are the defining characteristics of the early stages of a major incident, and especially multiple incidents at different sites across London. However, there is scope for improving the systems by which information is gathered and shared among London’s transport, emergency and other services involved in the response.
2.8 Major emergencies usually generate numerous 999 calls from members of the public, and this is how the emergency services are initially alerted to the problem. The emergency services are then able to compare the calls received, cross-reference and establish what has happened and where. Because the first three explosions took place underground, there were very few 999 calls reporting the explosions on the trains.
2.9 Passengers on the three bombed trains were unable to communicate with the drivers of the trains to alert them to the explosion. Had they been able to do so, they might have been able to help the transport and emergency services establish what had happened in the minutes following the explosions. Emily, who survived the [[King’s Cross/Russell Square explosion]], wrote to us about the lack of communications in the first half an hour after the explosion.
‘There needs to be a way of being able to make contact with someone, we
assumed the train driver was dead as he didn’t make contact with us. We waited for help, we was expecting someone to bang on the window and tell us it would be ok and that there wasn’t a fire. That was the main concern, if there was smoke, there must be a fire on its way, burning down the tunnel towards us. If people had known there was no fire (through someone making contact with us) the situation could have been a lot calmer. I think the most important thing that needs to be recognised is us not having contact with anyone. Not long after the bomb went off, we all tried to stay quiet to hear for help, all we could hear were the screams from the other carriages, to our horror we then heard a train, thinking it was coming towards us people were screaming there was a train coming towards us and that no-one knew we were down there. That was the scariest part of it (apart from thinking I was going to burn alive) – not knowing whether anyone was aware of what had happened to us and not knowing if help was on its way’.
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2.10 Kirsty, a passenger in the sixth carriage of the King’s Cross/Russell Square train, told us that in the first half hour after the train came to a halt, ‘There was obviously no communication from anyone; I did rather pathetically pull the emergency handle at one stage. It was a desperate need to do something’.
2.11 We discuss further the importance of communication and reassurance from authority figures in the minutes following the explosions on the Underground in Section 4.
2.12 Trains on the Central, Northern and Jubilee Lines currently have equipment that allows passengers to speak with the train operator in an emergency. We understand from Transport for London that District Line trains are undergoing a major refit which includes fitting a similar facility. On all other lines, such a facility will be available when new rolling stock is provided on each line, which is scheduled to happen progressively over the next decade as part of the Public Private Partnership. In addition, we understand that all Tube trains have a communication system between the Line Control Office and passengers which is automatic if the driver is incapacitated.
2.13 A range of circumstances could create the urgent need for passengers to communicate with the train driver and vice versa. A large proportion of Tube trains do not currently have a facility for passengers and train drivers to communicate with each other in an emergency. This represents a significant weakness in the safety of the Tube for passengers, and limits the ability of the emergency services to respond rapidly and effectively to any incident that might take place. These facilities must therefore be put in place as quickly as possible, in the interests of the safety of passengers in the normal course of events, and in particular in the event of a major emergency.
We recommend that London Underground, Tubelines and Metronet, as part of the review of the Public Private Partnership to be completed in 2010, negotiate a more rapid rollout of facilities for passengers and train drivers to be able to communicate in the event of an emergency. We would draw the attention of the Public Private Partnership Arbiter to this recommendation and others relating to the review of the Public Private Partnership.[clarification needed] 8 Written submission from Emily, Volumd 3, page 230 9 Transcript of Committee meeting, 23 March 2006, Volume 3, page 29 14 of 151 2.14 for various reasons, on any of the three affected trains on 7 July. Direct communication from the affected trains to either the emergency services 2.15 with What this meant in practical terms was that, as Tim O’Toole explained, ‘the way we obtained information n .16 Transport for London has told us that it is investing £2 billion over 20 years in a new management of the network on a day-to-day basis. But in the short to medium term, .17 Communications from the trains to the London Underground Network Control Centre uly. As a re trains and su 2.18 Given emerg the ne projec identif n drivers Perhaps a more significant and worrying weakness is the lack of reliable communications between train drivers and line controllers. London Underground’s radio systems are antiquated and did not work, or the Transport for London Network Control Centre could have led to a much more rapid assessment of what had happened and where. Tim O’Toole explained to us that the radios usually used by drivers to communicate their line control managers could not be used on 7 July because the ‘leaky feeder’10 antennae were damaged by the explosion. We understand that this was the case at Russell Square (we discuss this further, below). Tim O’Toole also told us that the Underground’s radio systems are antiquated and ‘sometimes fail us’ because of blind spots within the tunnels and temporary interruptions to the service.11 was from station staff running down to the sites and then using their radios to call i directly to the operations centre that something was wrong’.12 This is a key example of Tim O’Toole’s maxim that individuals can be relied upon, whereas technology cannot. 2 digital radio system for the Tube, as part of the Public /Private Partnership. This is good news in the very long term. Such a system will significantly help London Underground to provide robust and resilient communications systems between drivers and line control managers. Digital radio will be crucial in the event of a future emergency on the Tube. It will also contribute to the efficient and effective we are left with a radio system that is inadequate and will not be fully replaced for another 20 years. The rollout of TETRA-based digital radio communications13 on the Tube may go some way to addressing this problem, though we understand that this is intended for use by the emergency services rather than train drivers. We discuss this further below. 2 and the emergency services were inadequate or non-existent on 7 J sult, transport and emergency service workers had to run from the to the platforms and back again to communicate with their colleagues pervisors. the importance of communications in the minutes following any sort of ency on a Tube train, we consider that the timeframe for the rollout of w radio system must be significantly reduced from the current tion of twenty years. In the meantime, an interim solution must be ied to provide a robust and resilient form of communication betwee and their line controllers. 10 For explanation of this term, see glossary 11 Transcript of Committee meeting, 3 November 2005, Volume 2, page 12 12 Transcript of Committee meeting, 3 November 2005, Volume 2, page 12 13 See glossary 15 of 151
Recommendations 2 and 3Edit
We recommend that, as part of the review of the PPP to be concluded in 2010, London Underground, Metronet and Tubelines seek to speed up the rollout of the new radio system to enable train drivers to communicate with their line controllers. In the meantime, we recommend that Transport for London conduct a study of possible interim solutions to increase the reliability and resilience of radio communications between train drivers and line controllers. We request that Transport for London provide us with an update on progress in time for our November 2006 follow-up review.[clarification needed] 2.19 n back to their y 2.20 It took about two hours for the equipment to be brought to Russell Square, following the request being ade of O , the communications company, at 10 am. O2 then had to await clearance to stall the cable.14 The leaky feeder cable was finally in place at 9.00 m on 7 July, eleven hours after the explosions. Whilst this may have helped the police se who eration that followed in e next three hours. 2.21 dio communications – the CONNECT project – when it took control of ondon Underground in 2003. The project is two years behind schedule, but Transport r London has provided us with assurances that it is now proactively managing the contract, and the rollout of CONNECT will be completed during the course of 2006/07. On arrival at the affected trains, emergency services personnel sought to establish what had happened, and needed immediately to communicate this informatio control centres. The British Transport Police is the only emergency service equipped with radios that can function underground. All the other emergency services had to rel on individuals running back and forth from the train to the platform and from the platform to ground level, or use British Transport Police radios. At Russell Square, the ‘leaky feeder’ cable that enables the British Transport Police’s radios to function was damaged by the blast. Emergency and transport services personnel were therefore unable to communicate with their colleagues at ground level without making the 15-minute journey back down the tunnel to the platform. A solution in the form of a temporary leaky feeder cable was installed. m 2 enter the tunnel to in p and others in the retrieval of the deceased and the collection of forensic evidence in the days and weeks following 7 July, it was clearly too late to be of any use to tho arrived first at the site of the explosions and needed to communicate with their colleagues above ground. It also did not help with the rescue op th Transport for London took over the contract for the installation of facilities for underground ra L fo 14 Transcript of Committee meeting, 1 December 2005, Volume 2, page 81 16 of 151 2.22 CONNECT will enable emergency services equipped with TETRA-based radios, such as Airwave, to communicate underground and from below ground to the surface. These radios will be interoperable between the emergency services (though the extent to which this is desirable from their commanders’ points of view is a moot point), and will provide a more resilient, reliable form of communications within each service. This wi be a significant step in reducing the reliance of the em ll ergency services on mobile telephones – we discuss this in Section 3 of the report. 2.23 sed 2.24 communications. The report highlighted the lack of communications between the rt n in ucted rt. 2.25 y l s been recognised as a major weakness for the past 18 years, ever since the official inquiry into the King’s Cross Fire in 1988. Since then, 2.26 cuse for failing now to deliver facilities to enable underground radio communications by the end of 2007, which was the target 2.27 6, May any delays. At present, the City of London Police and British Transport Police are equipped with Airwave radios. The remaining emergency services will be putting in place TETRA-ba digital radio systems as follows: Metropolitan Police Service By the end of 2007 London Fire Brigade By March 2007 London Ambulance Service By the end of 2007 The official inquiry into the King’s Cross fire, published in 1988, included a chapter on station surface and underground, and the inability of officers from the British Transpo Police and London Fire Brigade to communicate underground unless they were withi line of sight of each other. The report made recommendations aimed at putting place effective communications within and between the emergency services underground. These were categorised by Desmond Fennell OBE QC, who cond the inquiry, as among the most important recommendations made in the repo Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair told us that he regards the inability of the emergency services to communicate underground as ‘a significant problem for London’.15 We agree with his assessment. The inabilit of the emergency services to communicate underground is not a new or nove problem. It ha there has been a failure by successive governments to take the necessary action to install underground communications for the transport and emergency services. There can be no ex date given to us by the emergency and transport services in November 2005. We intend to monitor progress towards this deadline in November 200 2007 and November 2007, and will be publicly asking the emergency and transport services to provide us with update reports setting out the progress that has been made and explaining 15 Transcript of Committee meeting, 1 March 2006, Volume 2, page 163 17 of 151
Recommendations 4 and 5Edit
We recommend that Transport for London provide an update on progress in rolling out the CONNECT project in November 2006, May 2007 and November 2007, so that we can monitor the delivery of the contract. The timely completion of this project is essential to enable all London’s emergency services to communicate underground. We recommend 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 in November 2006, May 2007 and November 2007, so that we can monitor progress towards full implementation of TETRAbased radio communications across London’s emergency services. We would draw this recommendation, and others aimed at the London Fire Brigade and Metropolitan Police Service respectively, to the attention of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and the Metropolitan Police Authority. 2.28 ll hours of an emergency, when communications underground are essential for both the safety and 2.29 y, 2.30 ies as the longer term. Installing a leaky feeder in the tunnel as an interim/back-up solution – as at Russe Square - is a slow process. It is unlikely to help in the critical first effectiveness of emergency services personnel. We are given to understand that other alternatives are available, which are portable and do not require expert installation. Personal Role Radios, as used by the British Arm are capable of being used underground, including for underground-to-surface communications. It is going to take at least another 18 months to implement digital radio communications underground. In the meantime, an emergency system of underground communications needs to be available, which is capable of being put in place much more quickly than a leaky feeder cable. So far as we can gather, no serious consideration has been given to alternative technolog an interim measure pending the rollout of CONNECT and Airwave, or as a back-up measure in Recommendation 6 We recommend that Transport for London conduct a feasibility study to assess the costs and effectiveness of Personal Role Radios and other available technologies to enable communications for emergency and transport services in underground stations and tunnels. We request that Transport for London provide an update on work in this area by the time of our follow-up review in November 2006. 18 of 151 2.31 The key elements of the effort to establish what had happened at each site were: a. the first 999 calls received by the emergency services b. the arrival of each emergency service on the scene c. identification of the site of the incident, and recognition that there had been an explosion d. communication between the emergency services about the nature and location of the incident into play special arrangements within each service (for example, suspending non-emergency duties and recalling units to stations) and between the services (for example, establishin nd control structures and channels of communication). .32 he speed and effectiveness of the emergency and transport services in establishing what e 2.33 y the precise timings of the initial communications within and between the transport and the 2.34 d e. the declaration of a major incident. Declaring a major incident brings g special command a 2 had happened varied across the sites. This was to some extent inevitable given the location of the explosions. For example, at Aldgate, the train had barely entered th tunnel, and passengers began to emerge from the tunnel shortly after the explosion; whereas at Russell Square it took much longer for passengers to make their way along a fifteen minute walk through the tunnel to the platform. There are some inconsistencies between the timelines provided to us by the emergenc and transport services. This has made it difficult in some cases for us to establish emergency services, and the initial deployment of the emergency services to each of sites. There are lessons to be learnt from the initial response of the emergency and transport services. We believe that, in future, communications during the critical initial period could be improved, especially in the event of another incident on the Underground, an that this could result in a slightly quicker and more effective emergency response. 19 of 151 20 of 151
The First Hour – Site by SiteEdit
21 of 151 22 of 151
The First Hour - AldgateEdit
‘I saw the flash, the orange-yellow light, and what appeared to be silver streaks, which I think was some of the glass coming across, and what I can describe as a rushing sound. There was no bang I heard; it was just a lot of noise. I had been twisted and thrown down to the ground. About halfway down to the ground the brain clicked in that it was a bomb. You then think you are going to die. When I hit the ground, it was all dark and silent and I thought I was dying’ Michael, survivor of the Aldgate explosion16 16 Transcript of Committee meeting, 23 March 2006, Volume 3, page 19 23 of 151 24 of 151 Aldgate - The First Hour - Timeline 2.35 The first 999 call in relation to Aldgate was made to the British Transport Police by a member of London Underground staff, at 8.51am, repor air. At the same time, the London Ambulance Service received a call to attend Liverpool Street station. 2.36 The London Fire Brigade was called to a fire and explosion at Aldgate at 8.56 am, and four units, including a Fire Rescue Unit, were deployed one minute later. Fire Rescue Units provide specialist assistance to firefighters at the scene, such as rescue cutting equipment and protective gas-tight suits. 2.37 The first fire engines arrived at Aldgate at 9.00 am. At 9.00 am, further Fire Brigade units were mobilised to a reported explosion at Aldgate. At 9.02 am, further appliances were mobilised, responding to reports of smoke in a tunnel. Two fire engines and a senior officer were sent to Aldgate, and an additional fire engine was sent to Liverpool Street. The London Fire Brigade declared a major incident at 9.05 am, 15 minutes after the explosion. 2.38 The first British Transport Police officer arrived at the scene at 8.55 am, and reported ‘building shock’ and smoke issuing from the tunnel, but no evidence of structural damage. At 8.58 am, the British Transport Police had identified the site of the incident in the tunnel between Aldgate and Liverpool Street, but had not discovered any injured passengers at that point. Power to the track was cut off. At 9.01 am, the British Transport Police requested attendance by the London Ambulance Service to tend to 3-4 walking wounded. By 9.07 am, there were 25 walking wounded, some of whom were badly injured. At 9.08 am, the British Transport Police at the scene reported that there had been a train accident, and declared a major incident. Two minutes later, the City of London Police recognised that there had been an explosion caused by a bomb, and declared a major incident. At 9.19 am, the British Transport Police formally requested assistance from the Metropolitan Police Service (which is the lead police service in the event of a major or catastrophic incident, even if it takes place within the jurisdiction of the City of London Police or British Transport Police). The Metropolitan Police was in fact already aware of the incident, and the first officer arrived at the scene at 9.20am there were five fatalities. This was 14 minut igade had first reported the explosion. Th n arrived at 9.14 am, 9 ion had declared a major incident, and 13 after the first request from the British Transport Police. ting a loud bang and dust in the 2.39 The first ambulance arrived at 9.03 am at Liverpool Street, followed three minutes later by an emergency planning manager. At 9.07 am, the London Ambulance Service Emergency Planning Manager advised Central Ambulance Control to place hospitals on major incident standby, identify safe rendez-vous points in case of a Chemical, Biological, Radiation or Nuclear (CBRN) risk, and mobilise equipment vehicles. At 9.14 am, an ambulance crew reported that the incident had been an explosion, and that es after the Fire Br e first ambulance to arrive at Aldgate statio minutes after the Fire Brigade at the stat minutes 25 of 151 2.40 2.41 26 of 151 It is clear that the initial deployment of the emergency services to Aldgate station was rapid, and it was quickly established that there had been an explosion on the train. All the emergency services were aware of the explosion at Aldgate East by 9.14 am. A major incident had been declared separately by the London Fire Brigade, the London Ambulance Service and the police, by 9.15 am, 25 minutes after the explosion. However, we note that the London Ambulance Service does not seem to have been aware of the Fire Brigade’s assessment of the scene (that there had been an explosion) for 11 minutes, and the British Transport Police was still reporting a train accident at 9.08 am, eight minutes after the identification of an explosion by the London Fire Brigade. The response of the London Ambulance Service at Aldgate was several minutes later than the response of the London Fire Brigade. Whilst the first fire engine was at Aldgate station by 9.00 am, the first ambulance did not arrive at Aldgate station until 9.14 am, 23 minutes after the first 999 call was received and nine minutes after the declaration of a major incident by the Fire Brigade.
The First Hour - Edgware RoadEdit
the explosion occurred, the noise was both vast and quiet. Darkness came immediately as did fear for my life’ - Tim, survivor of the Edgware Road bomb ‘When , ‘Just bangs and then an orange fireball. I put my hands and arms over my ears and head as the flew thr came to a s toget overed me. A head b lass from t made I could y silence.’ 18 John, survivor of the Edgware Road bomb 17 after the train left Edgware station, there was a massive bang followed by two smaller windows and the doors of the carriage shattered from the blast. Splintered and broken glass ough the air towards me and other passengers. I was pushed sideways as the train udden halt. I thought I was going to die. Horrific loud cries and screams filled the air, her with smoke, bits and chemicals. Large and small pieces of stuff hit me and c book jammed itself between my shoulder and a panel at the side of me. I was hit on the y a piece of metal that gave me a headache. I was covered in splinters and broken g he window behind me. My eyes were sore and very dry from the fireball. Rubbing them them only worse. Small splintered pieces of glass were sticking in my head and face. not breathe; my lungs were burning because of the smoke and the dust. I crashed m head between my knees to get some air. There followed a 17 Transcript of Committee meeting, 23 March 2006, Volume 3, page 11 18 Transcript of Committee meeting, 23 March 2006, Volume 3, page 4 27 of 151 28 of 151 Edgware Road – The First Hour - Timeline .42 At Edgware Road, as at the other sites, London Underground workers were among the first to arrive at the affected trains. Steve, who Road station, described in his account of the day, kindly passed on to us by Transport for London, how he became aware of the explosion: ‘At about 08.50 we heard a tremendous bang which shook the whole building. We both [Steve and the duty station manager, Derek] ran towards the windows to see if anything had happened outside. Derek immediately contacted the Station Supervisor, Sue, to ask if everything was alright and she replied, “You had better come down”. We could see the rear of a westbound train, which had stopped about 50 yards into the tunnel towards Paddington, with a lot of dust emanating. Train staff already on the scene had already entered the tunnel, having switched off the traction current. Passengers were appearing from inside the tunnel and staff were escorting them to the platform edge ramp. The entire station staff were pulling together to get customers out of the station as quickly as possible. I immediately telephoned the Network Control Centre to tell them what was happening and that ambulances would be needed. I then heard about the Liverpool Street incident and immediately knew what we were dealing with. My immediate thoughts then were for my wife Val, who travels through Liverpool Street.’ 2.43 On the basis of reports from LU staff such as Steve, London Underground’s Network Control Centre placed a call to the emergency services at 8.59 am asking them to attend Edgware Road, Aldgate and King’s Cross. 2.44 At Edgware Road, we understand that the first 999 call was made at 8.58 am by a member of the public from nearby Praed Street, reporting a fire and an explosion. At a Fire treet (which turned out not to have been the site of any incident) at 9.04 am. 2.4 2.47 At 9.07 am, Fire Control received a call alerting the Hammersmith and City Line at Edgware Road station. Seven minutes later, at 9.13 am, four vehicles were mobilised to Edgware Road. Only one of these was a redeployed vehicle from Praed Street. Paul, a member of the public, was outside Edgware Road station on 7 July and set up a reception area for survivors in a nearby Marks & Spencer store. He came to the Committee’s meeting on 23 March 2006 to tell us about his from the response at Edgware raed Street at 9.15 am, whilst he 2 works in Edgware House above Edgware 9.00 am, the London Fire Brigade mobilised five units, including a Fire Rescue Unit and Investigation Unit, to Praed Street. The first units arrived at Praed S 5 The first ambulance to arrive at Edgware Road arrived at 9.12 am, and by 9.14 am the crew had reported back to the control room that there had been an explosion with up to 1,000 casualties. Two minutes later they confirmed that there had been an explosion and requested ‘as many ambulances as you can muster’. 2.46 The British Transport Police received a call to Edgware Road at 8.58 am, reporting a person under a train and a train collision with the tunnel wall. The Metropolitan Police were called by the London Fire Brigade at 9.04 am and were on the scene at 9.12 am. The Metropolitan Police Service declared a major incident at 9.32 am, 39 minutes after the explosion and 20 minutes after their arrival at Edgware Road station. them to the location of the incident on experiences and give his views on lessons to be learnt Road. Paul told us that two appliances were still at P 29 of 151 2.48 2.49 2.50 30 of 151 could see no emergency vehicle in attendance at Edgware Road station. The Fire Rescue Unit that had been sent to Praed Street was eventually re-deployed to Edgware Road at 9.37 am. The first fire engine arrived at Edgware Road at 9.18 am, 27 minutes after the explosion and 19 minutes after the Network Control Centre’s first emergency call. The Fire Brigade declared a major incident at Edgware Road station at 9.34 am. As it turned out, this was a full 20 minutes after the London Ambulance Service had already reported to their control room that there had been an explosion with up to 1,000 casualties. It took longer at Edgware Road than at Aldgate for the emergency services to establish and communicate to each other that there had been an explosion. It is not clear to us why this should be the case, given that the train stopped only 50 yards into the tunnel, and London Underground workers alerted their Network Control Centre to the incident within minutes. The Network Control Centre called the emergency services to the scene at 8.59 am, but the first Fire Engine did not arrive until 9.18 am, 19 minutes later, and the Metropolitan Police did not declare a major incident until 9.32 am, followed two minutes later by a declaration of a major incident by the London Fire Brigade. We can only conclude that communications at the scene, and between the scene and control centres, was less effective at Edgware Road than it was at Aldgate. This could be a result of the emergency services focusing on the incident at Aldgate, which was reported just a couple of minutes before the incident at Edgware Road.
The First Hour - King’s Cross/Russell SquareEdit
e Tube was moving. The doors were shut; we started to pull into the tunnel. It was ximately 12-15 seconds … This almighty bang. I said, “What the ef ‘Th appro fing hell’s that?” In went fr scream r 25 peo here I was in relation to the m; there is , in al more fe ad never this millisecond, from the time that went, there was this bright, orange light opposite, and I’m facing the double doors, with my back to the doors on the platform side. In that millisecond, it om a bright orange to nothing. What the hell was that? Of course, audibly I hear a lot – ing, praying. We now know that 25 people around me were just outright killed; anothe ple were seriously injured. My first reaction was – I knew w carriage, and I knew I was on the first carriage – I thought, “We have hit a train”. My first thought was, “We have hit a train; the driver is dead”. I can’t see anything. It’s pandemoniu black smoke pouring in and I’m having a hell of a job to breathe anyway. I’m thinking l these seconds, “This isn’t good. This isn’t good, because, if this is followed by fire, or dense smoke, you’re not getting out of this, George”. I had literally written myself off; I lt this is where it ends. “You’re not getting out of this”. I couldn’t see. I h experienced anything like that before. I can’t talk for other carriages but, in the first carriage, you could see nothing’.19 George, survivor of the King’s Cross/Russell Square explosion 19 Transcript of interview with George, Volume 3, page 128 31 of 151 32 of 151 King’s Cross/Russell Square – The First Hour - Timeline 2.51 The train between King’s Cross and Russell Square was left completely isolated by the explosion. There were very few 999 ca operate underground. Radio communication from the train had been disabled. Nobody on the train could communicate with the world outside without leaving and walking down the tunnel to a station platform. 2.52 The Metropolitan Police Service was first alerted to an incident at King’s Cross at 8.56 am, on the basis of CCTV footage of the station. 2.53 The London Fire Brigade received its first 999 call, reporting smoke issuing from a tunnel at King’s Cross, at 9.02 am. At 9.04 am, a ‘split attendance’ was mobilised, with three fire engines sent to Euston Square and one to King’s Cross. Fire engines arrived at Euston Square (which turned out not to be one of the sites where passengers were emerging from tunnels) at 9.07 and 9.11 am. The first fire engine arrived at King’s Cross station at 9.13 am. At 9.19 am, and again at 9.36 am, further fire engines were requested to King’s Cross. There is no information to show when these further appliances arrived. 2.54 The first 999 London Ambulance Service call reporting an incident at King’s Cross was received at 9.04 am. A London Ambulance Service Fast Response Unit arrived at King’s Cross at 9.14 am, followed by the first ambulance at 9.19 am. A major incident was declared at King’s Cross by the Metropolitan Police Service at 9.15 am and then by the London Ambulance Service at 9.21 am. 2.55 It is unclear precisely when the London Fire Brigade became aware that there had been an explosion at King’s Cross. However, we do know that the ability of the London Fire Brigade to establish what had happened at King’s Cross was hampered by the fact that hand-held radios did not work effectively between the platform and a control position 2 2.5 2.59 The first 999 ambulance cal Russell Square was not received until 9.18 ing at the platform, having been led from the train by one of the two drivers in the driver’s cab. The London Ambulance Service despatched a Fast Response Unit at 9.24 am, which arrived at Russell Square station at 9.30 am. A major incident was finally declared at Russell Square by the London Ambulance Service at 9.38 am, 45 minutes after the explosion. At that point, the Ambulance Service Professional Standards Officer at the lls reporting the explosion; mobile phones do not at the top of the escalator, nor between the top of the escalator and outside the station. The Fire Brigade therefore had to use runners – individuals running up and down escalators – to communicate from below ground to the surface. 2.56 No Fire Rescue Unit was deployed to King’s Cross in the initial stages of the response. .57 Communications problems made it difficult for the emergency and transport services to establish what had happened to the passengers emerging from the tunnel at King’s Cross station. 8 The explosion on the Piccadilly Line train took place in the first carriage, at the Russell Square end of the train. It was via Russell Square station that the seriously injured were brought to ground level as the rescue effort got underway. l reporting an incident at am, 25 minutes after the explosion. Passengers began appear 33 of 151 2.60 2.61 2.62 2.63 34 of 151 scene was reporting 6-15 fatalities and 50+ casualties. This was a full 20 minutes after the British Transport Police received reports of loss of life and limbs. We cannot glean from the information provided to us by the Metropolitan Police Service at what time they were aware of the incident at Russell Square, as their records treat King’s Cross and Russell Square as the same incident. From the information provided to us by the London Fire Brigade, it would appear that no fire engines were sent to Russell Square at any point during the first hour following the explosions. The initial deployment of ambulances and fire engines to Russell Square was much slower than at the other sites, and it took longer to establish what had happened. The first 999 call was not received until 25 minutes after the explosion, and a major incident was not declared until 9.38 am. emergency services to Russell Square upon discovery of the train at the King’s Cross end of the tunnel. Had this happened, ambulances and other emergency services personnel might have arrived at the scene earlier. The London Fire Brigade did order a ‘split attendance’, but to a station which turned out not to have been affected (Euston Square). There was no automatic deployment of the Recommendation 7 We recommend that emergency plans be amended so that, when an incident takes place in an Underground tunnel, the emergency services are deployed to the stations closest to the train in either direction. 2.64 In the absence of the Fire Brigade at Russell Square, the task of making the scene safe for other emergency services, and evacuating the injured at Russell Square, was instead carried out by the London Underground Emergency Response Unit who, along with the two drivers, evacuated passengers from the first carriage and removed the seriously injured up to the station concourse at ground level. The Emergency Response Unit is a small and little-known unit which is responsible for responding rapidly to incidents on the Tube, such as suicides, derailments, and passenger emergencies. On 7 July the unit attended each scene and played a crucial role in the emergency response. They are experts in dealing with emergencies on and around trains, and have specialist equipment for supporting tunnels, dismantling trains, and helping to rescue people from damaged trains. The unit is regularly deployed to respond to people on the tracks, as well as other emergencies. 2.65 We were surprised therefore to learn that Emergency Response Unit vehicles do not have blue lights, do not have the automatic right to drive in bus lanes, and have to pay the Congestion Charge. (They are later reimbursed, but this is clearly an unnecessary administrative burden.) Prior to 7 July, Emergency Response Unit vehicles were not allowed to drive in bus lanes. They are now allowed to do so, having secured an exemption, but they must produce a detailed audit trail to demonstrate that the right to drive in bus lanes is not being used outside of emergency circumstances. They therefore regularly receive fines for driving in bus lanes, which then have to be paid and er use at any one time, and bearing in mind their role in responding to emergencies on the Tube, we cannot see any reason why her emergency vehicles. e), 2.67 y tend cidents. Emergency Response Unit vehicles should be automatically exempt from the congestion charge, and should be allowed to 2.68 mostly on the Tube network. It is therefore a cause for concern that they do not have radios that function subsequently reimbursed, and in each instance this takes between an hour and 1½ hours to process. Nor are Emergency Response Unit vehicles automatically exempt from the Congestion Charge: in the three weeks following 7 July, the Emergency Response Unit paid at least 35 Congestion Charge fines. Given that there are only ev nine Emergency Response Unit vehicles in their vehicles could not be automatically exempt from the Congestion Charge, and entitled to drive in bus lanes, as is the case with ot 2.66 Like the other emergency services (with the exception of the British Transport Polic the Emergency Response Unit has no means of radio communication underground. We are not aware of any plans to provide underground communications for the Emergency Response Unit. The London Underground Emergency Response Unit is a crucial element of an emergency response on the Tube. It is regularly required urgently to at life-threatening in drive in bus lanes. They should also have blue lights. These measures would help the unit to get to the scenes of emergencies on the Tube much more rapidly. The Emergency Response Unit works underground. Recommendations 8 to 11 We recommend that Transport for London lobby the Government to obtain blue light status for Emergency Response Unit vehicles. This would, amongst other things, exempt Emergency Response Unit vehicles from bus lane restrictions and the Congestion Charge. We recommend that, in the meantime, Transport for London grant the Emergency Response Unit automatic access to bus lanes and an automatic exemption from the Congestion Charge. We recommend that the Emergency Response Unit obtain Airwave radios to be able to communicate underground once the CONNECT project is completed. We recommend that the Emergency Response Unit consider the feasibility of obtaining an interim/back-up solution to enable its staff to communicate underground, such as Personal Role Radios. 35 of 151
The First Hour - Tavistock SquareEdit
st started leaving Tavistock Square when there was a very strange noise. It wasn’t like a it was like a muffled whooshing sound almost, but then the bus was very packed, and the one in front. Being sort of ensconced, I didn’t hear – I saw, but I didn’t really hear it udly. There was a mass exodus off of our bus, as things were still coming to the ground s were flying everywhere. The only thing I do remember is the carnage and everything as the floor. I remember looking at the bus, and I remember initially thinking, “What is ing bus doing there?” because that is actually what it looked like. From the fro it looked like; it didn’t look like a London bus. Now I know why, but it didn’t look that o me. It looked like one of those that has the roof off. It wasn’t until I actually saw the ‘We ju bang; I was on very lo and bit it hit a sightsee nt, that is what way t blood, and the smells, that I thought something is really wrong here and not right. It sounds almost ridiculous to say it, but it was just such a surreal thing; I still have trouble explaining it. I can see things in my head, but I just can’t find the words to describe it’.20 M, survivor of the Tavistock Square explosion 20 Transcript of interview with M, Volume 3, page 210 36 of 151 ‘The keepin the seats h elf off. I I was just scr and stu ere hangin ed Gary, survivor of the Tavistock Square explosion 2.69 9.47 am, within a minute of the explosion. Twelve further 999 calls were made, all before 9.56 am. A number of medics were on the site before that time: 2.70 e the e Brigade do not show the time of their arrival at the scene. to us lice, London Fire Brigade or London Ambulance Service. floor went completely up to my seat, and I’m mid-air with a strand of floor remaining, g me from falling from the upstairs seats. I looked behind me and everybody and all ad vanished. I just went into flight mode. I just stuck my foot out and launched mys hit the side of the bus on the way down onto the pavement…I jumped down and eaming. It is funny, because I couldn’t hear anything. It was like somebody had got you ck you at the bottom of a swimming pool. You are so disorientated, all my clothes w g off me where they had all shredded. It blew the top of my shoe off – a heavy-stitch leather shoe’.21 At Tavistock Square, it was immediately apparent what had happened, and the first 999 call was made at the bus was located outside the headquarters of the British Medical Association and doctors and other trained first-aiders came out of the building to care for the injured. The Metropolitan Police Service happened already to have an officer at the scene. Th first ambulance arrived at the scene at 9.57 am, having come across the bus in passing. The first fire engines were despatched at 9.50 am, but the records provided to us by London Fir 2.71 There were no other ambulances at the scene at that point. The records provided by the emergency services do not show when a major incident was declared by the Metropolitan Po 21 Transcript of interview with Gary, Volume 3, page 202 37 of 151 Establishing what had happened at each scene – findings 2.72 At each scene on the Tube, it took some tim same time, the London Underground Network Control Centre was piecing together information from the emergency services and its own monitoring equipment. On that basis, the Network Control Centre put in an emergency services call to three sites at 8.59 am – Aldgate, King’s Cross and Edgware Road. The records we have been given do not demonstrate that these calls resulted in the immediate despatch of the emergency services to the scenes. For some reason, the message does not seem to have got through to the right people. 2.73 Communication between the control rooms of the emergency services in the event of a major incident takes places through a ‘first alert’ system. This is done through a ‘first alert’ call, which is in effect a conference call involving the emergency and transport services. The ‘first alert’ system was activated at 9.12 am, and the first conference call took place at 9.25 am.22 The decision was taken at 9.15 am to declare a network emergency and evacuate the entire Tube network. The evidence we have seen suggests that communication between those involved in the ‘first alert’ call and the emergency services on the scene could be improved in the future. For example, the Metropolitan Police Service was not officially called to the scene at Aldgate until 9.19 am, seven minutes after the activation of the ‘first alert’ system. And a major incident had still not been declared at Edgware Road by the time of the first conference call between the emergency services. 2.74 There is room for improvement in communications between the emergency services and the London Underground Network Control Centre. 2.75 The London Fire Brigade’s debriefing report identifies communications between the emergency services as a point for further consideration. From the information we have seen, we believe that more effective communications between the emergency services in relation to each scene, and overall, could have reduced the duration of the period of uncertainty about the location and 2 e to establish what had happened. At the nature of the incidents and enabled the emergency services more rapidly to put in place a co-ordinated emergency response. .76 The London Emergency Services Procedure Manual sets out in broad terms how the emergency services will respond to major and catastrophic incidents. It clearly states that a major incident can be declared by any of the emergency services, the implication being that this will be done on behalf of all the services. On 7 July, each of the emergency services arriving at the scenes of the explosions separately declared major incidents within their own service. It is not clear to us why each of the emergency services found it necessary separately to declare major incidents. 22 Transcript of Committee meeting, November 2005, Volume 2, page 11 38 of 151 2.77 It is common sense that one declaration of a major incident, by whichever service is first at the scene, ought to automatically mobilise units from ‘all three’ services - police, fire and ambulance – and activate major incident procedures within all the services. It is difficult to envisage a major incident, especially on the Tube, which would not necessitate the attendance of the fire, ambulance and police services, at least in the first instance until the situation has been assessed and the emergency response fully mobilised. Recommendation 12 We recommend that the London Resilience Forum review the protocols for declaring a major incident to ensure that, as soon as one of the emergency services declares a major incident, the others also put major incident procedures in place. This could increase the speed with which the emergency services establish what has happened and begin to enact a co-ordinated and effective emergency response. 39 of 151 40 of 151 The First Hour – rescue & treatment of the injured 3 41 of 151
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