Emergency services 'were not ready' for 7 July attacks

Failures in the preparations by the emergency services to cope with the London Tube and bus bombings will be criticised in a report today.

The review by members of the Greater London Assembly found there was a lack of stretchers, poor planning to evacuate the injured, and inadequate communications that prevented the emergency services being able to communicate to controllers.

Paramedics at the scene of the Edgware Road explosion had to use a nearby Marks & Spencer store for bandages after their first-aid supplies ran out.

One victim of the King's Cross explosion said it took two hours for ambulances to arrive at Russell Square Tube station.

"There were no ambulances. There were no doctors," Rachel North, 34, an account director told the review committee set up to learn the lessons from the disaster.

Paul Dadge, a former fireman who helped the masked Davinia Turrell to safety, told the hearing: "What struck me was the complete inadequacy of medical supplies and ambulances. We were using first-aid kits from Marks & Spencer because we'd run out of bandages.

"That just shouldn't be allowed to happen. There were nine ambulances for about 1,000 casualties and at one point there were two paramedics for 150 patients."

The report by a committee chaired by Richard Barnes, a Conservative member of the GLA, will praise the rescuers for their courage and heroism, but call for an immediate improvement in the emergency preparations to cope with another terrorist attack on the capital.

Some of the recommendations made after the 1987 King's Cross fire were never implemented and the main focus will be on the need to improve radio communications to enable police and rescuers to speak to each other in another emergency.

Ambulance drivers were unable to talk to their control rooms after the mobile telephone network was paralysed, it is thought to prevent terrorists triggering more bombs. The lack of co-ordination caused by the network breakdown led to the injured being taken to overcrowded accident and emergency units while other hospitals were underused.

The report may also increase the pressure on the Government to appoint a cabinet-level minister for homeland security, which the Prime Minister has so far resisted.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative spokesman for homeland security, said he was still concerned at the lack of urgency in preparations for another emergency on the Tube network.

He found that improvised stretchers - carrying sheets - were on most Underground trains, but they were not marked in carriages and there were no written instructions available for the public on how to cope with a major emergency. "I found the level of complacency absolutely shocking," he said.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Baume, the head of the First Division Association of civil servants, accused ministers of seeking to shift the blame for failures at the Home Office on to their Whitehall staff.

He said the criticism of civil servants was "unfair, divisive and damaging to the work of every government department". Mr Baume added: "The Labour Government is in some difficulty as poll ratings fall and the Conservative Party is revitalised. Some recent criticism of the civil service looks like an ill-disguised attempt by some politicians and commentators to make excuses.

"These tactics are especially cowardly, because civil servants are not allowed to fight back."

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