London’s emergency plans must be changed to take into account the needs of survivors in the aftermath of a major incident, says the report by the London Assembly on its review of the July 7 2005 London bombings.
The only probe carried out in public reveals that in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, hundreds of traumatised people were left to wander away from the scenes with little or no effort made to collect their details.
The report says that 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 explosions.
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 and First Aid kits lacking bandages.
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.