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7 JULY: COUNCILS MUST DESIGNATE 'SURVIVAL CENTRES' NEAR TUBE STATIONS

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London's emergency plans must be changed to take into account the needs of survivors in the aftermath of a major in...
London's emergency plans must be changed to take into account the needs of survivors in the aftermath of a major incident, a report by the London Assembly reveals today. The report1 is the result of the only review of the 7 July bombings to have been carried out in public.

The account by the 7 July Review Committee reveals that in the immediate aftermath of London's bombings, hundreds of people were left to wander away from the scenes with little or no effort made to collect their details. The information gathered on 7 July and afterwards was not managed properly, the system was fragmented and uncoordinated and consequently, people did not receive the support and advice they needed.

An estimated 1,000 adults and 2,000 of their children are likely to have suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result of their experiences - 3,000 others are also believed to have been directly affected by the explosions2. The majority are still not known to the authorities, are not part of any survivors' support network and have been left to fend for themselves.

Richard Barnes AM, who chaired the investigation said: 'There is no doubt that lives were saved by individual acts of incredible bravery and courage by members of the emergency services, other passengers and members of the public.

'London's emergency plans have been tested, practiced and refined, but on 7 July it was clear that they ignored the needs of many individuals caught up in the attacks. They focused on incidents but not individuals and processes rather than people. It is vital that these plans are reviewed and updated to address this major issue.

'In November we will be asking the authorities for progress reports on the recommendations we have made and want to see some significant changes. If not, we will certainly be asking why.'

The report also reveals communications problems within and between the emergency services. Radios used by most blue light services still do not work underground, despite recommendations made 18 years ago after the Kings Cross Fire. The report also states 'there can be no excuse now for failing to deliver facilities to enable underground communications by the end of 2007, which was the target date given to us by the emergency and transport services in November 2005.' It is also vital that London's emergency services are equipped with digital radios so they do not have to rely on mobile telephones to communicate between the scenes of major incidents and control rooms.

Notes

1. 'The report of the 7 July Review Committee'. The report is published in three volumes, the first is the report, the second contains views and information from organisations and the third contains views and information from individual and survivors

2. Written submission from NHS Care Services Improvement Partnership/London Development Centre (Volume 2, page 244 of the report)

3. The NHS Trauma Response (London bombings) Screening Team - 020 7530 3687

4. 7 July Assistance Centre - 0845 054 7444

5. The report is available here.

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