7/7 paramedics defended over delay

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The Independent Online

An ambulance chief today defended paramedics who delayed for 30 minutes going underground to treat the victims of a 7/7 Tube attack.

Twenty-six passengers were killed when Jermaine Lindsay, 19, detonated a rucksack of homemade explosives on the Piccadilly line between King's Cross and Russell Square.

Paramedics arrived at King's Cross about 20 minutes after the blast but rather than go underground they waited to triage (prioritise) passengers who were above ground.

The terrified victims had made it out and were walking away.

But below ground the scene was horrific.

Today, Dr Fionna Moore, medical director for London Ambulance Service, said there was a shortage of information for paramedics to act on.

Neil Saunders, a barrister for 10 bereaved families, said: "What seems to have happened is the initial paramedics arrived about 9.14am then there was a delay before they go underground of about half an hour.

"Mr (Peter) Taylor (a paramedic) explained there was a considerable amount of triaging at the surface - that shouldn't have happened.

"They were clearly P3s (the least badly injured) coming from the Underground to the surface.

"Is that right?"

Dr Moore answered: "I think it is very easy with the benefit of hindsight to say somebody should have gone down to find out exactly what was happening.

"Given the reality of the situation with the grades, the number of very seriously injured casualties and fatalities were in the most distant carriage.

"I can see the situation in my mind's eye of being approached by a very large number of people, some with very clear injuries, and feeling that because there weren't that many people at the time, we had to deal with them because they had the most immediate need."

She said paramedics needed better information.

"But yes, in an ideal situation it would have been better that somebody went down to undertake clinical assessment," she added.

The bombings carried out on July 7 2005 by ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Hasib Hussain, 18, and Lindsay, were the worst single terrorist atrocity on British soil.

As well as killing themselves and 52 innocent people, the bombers injured more than 700 people.

On the penultimate day of evidence, London Fire Brigade also came in for criticism.

The inquest had already heard there was a delay of nearly 30 minutes in getting firefighters into King's Cross and a further delay in getting them into Edgware Road.

Today, Alan Payton, former deputy commissioner for mobilisation of London's Fire Brigade, explained why six minutes were lost sending firefighters to the right address at Edgware Road.

A call initially came in reporting a gas explosion at nearby Praed Street and firefighters were sent there.

But London Underground Limited then reported to LFB there was an incident at Edgware Road.

But the call operator failed to ask for sufficient information and sent crews to the wrong Edgware Road station, as there are two either side of the A40.

Hugo Keith QC, counsel to the inquests, said to the witness: "Mobilisation to two of the four incidents was so deficient there would be a delay in attending Edgware Road and King's Cross."

"Yes," said Mr Payton, who believed the operator "should have made more inquiries" about the Edgware Road call from LUL.

He said: "On this occasion, with the pressures on all sides I think mistakes were made, certainly, by our control."

The hearing continues tomorrow.