7/7 bombings: Met Police officer recalls the horrific scene after the Edgware Road explosion

PC Tom Woods was one of the first to arrive after six people died

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It has taken 10 years for PC Tom Woods to be able to talk publicly about what he saw on July 7.

Now aged 34 and a married father-of-two, the Metropolitan Police officer was one of the first to arrive at the horrific scene of the Edgware Road Underground station explosion, where six innocent people were killed and 163 others were injured.

Mr Woods gave first aid to a man with severe burns, carried injured people from the tunnel and searched through the wreckage for other possible bombs. He did this while knowing that lifeless victims lay nearby.

A bomb had exploded on Circle line train number 216, which had just left Edgware Road station heading west for Paddington at 8.50am.

He remembers the "musty and smoky" smell and that it was fairly light because it is not a deep tunnel.

Mr Woods, who was giving his first interview since the explosion, said: "You are walking through an empty train which starts off by being exactly as it was when it left the station that morning.

"Then by the time you stop walking you are looking through a window at the end which is black. It is almost like the world (and) the whole train ended at that point. Beyond that was the blast and everybody who had been seriously injured."

On a personal level, he decided that he would not talk about the devastation he had seen except with colleagues who had been there on the day.

He recalled: "When we came out of the train on one side there was somebody (who had been killed) there right by where we climbed out, somebody we had to step around and that really stuck with me.

"I do not know why that particular one has stuck with me because there were horrific injuries everywhere."

He did not speak to his family about it. "I felt I had seen something horrific and I did not think that I needed to cast that image on to anybody else so I dealt with it in work and on my team."

This temporary fix stopped working when Marylebone station, where he was based, was closed down two years later. He admits this "changed me a little bit" as he was still carrying around the burden of what he had seen.

Not wanting to go into detail, he said: "You don't realise the support you get from all those people who are around you.

"I had personal issues outside of work caused by me and eventually I ended up getting counselling. Everything that I had done came back to that (day)."

He eventually opened up to his family about what happened.

Mr Woods cannot remember large chunks of the life-saving work he did on the day.

He arrived to panic in the ticket hall with commuters rushing around and worked underground to get survivors out alive. He remembers this whole period as being around 20 minutes - in reality it was more like two hours.

Mr Woods cannot remember large chunks of the life-saving work he did (PA)

He started searching a train at the station and said he was "quite grateful" when the explosives dog turned up. This involved lifting up every seat in the tube train to ensure nothing had been planted there.

He does remember the unexpected kindness of people in response to the disaster.

A church at the end of the street was opened for everyone who, amid the confusion and turmoil, needed somewhere to go. Some elderly ladies opened a tea room in the corner and M&S sent sandwiches. They also handed out water and clothes to the injured.

Mr Woods, who is now with the Met intelligence unit, will be working on the anniversary.

He said: "I have never been to a memorial, ever. I make sure that I am not in Edgware Road on the 7th - and that is probably the only thing that has changed.

"I am proud of being part of helping people. I think it was an awful day but it is something which needs to be remembered forever. It does not take a specific day for me to remember it."

Press Association