Londoners a month on: 'I get pumped up full of adrenalin and wonder if something will happen today'

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The Independent Online


Helen Quadling was injured in the bomb at Edgware Road underground station. The 33-year-old PA has been concerned at the lack of counselling on offer for those affected.

I've seen no numbers for counselling services on trains or anything like that. When we were in the holding area in the Hilton hotel after the explosion, somebody came up and took my name and address. They said they were from a support group and that we would get a call, but I never heard anything.It kind of sticks in my throat that there were vigils and all this stuff about Londoners sticking together, but I've had absolutely no support. There are notices on overland trains that weren't there before about evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency, but nothing about how you deal with it afterwards.I am getting over my experience and am now able to sleep without nightmares, although I've had a couple of weird nights.I do still travel on the Tube because I have to, but I am on alert all the time.


Andrea Shields, 39, is a paramedic with the London Ambulance Service, based in Hampstead.

I had started work at 7am with my colleague, Charlie Lucas, and we were treating a patient at her home when we heard about the first bomb. The patient turned the television on and we realised it was a big incident, so we made sure she was OK and then made ourselves available.

We got sent to Tavistock Square first. When I saw the bus I couldn't believe the sight - I was quite shocked at how bad it looked. I have worked for the London Ambulance Service for 14 years and I was on duty when the Soho bomb went off, but I haven't ever seen anything as horrendous as this.

There were a lot of head injuries, people with deep cuts and people in very deep shock. We just rushed in and started helping. It's funny, but I didn't think at all about my own safety, even though it was very clear this was a terrorist attack. I went into the ambulance service because I wanted to help people, and that's what we started doing.

Then we got called to the Russell Square incident. There were some terrible injuries because it was a deep tunnel and it took a long time to get some of the people out.

I particularly remember one young woman. She had terrible leg injuries - her tights had melted into her legs and she was covered in soot and blood. But she kept saying, "I'm alive, I'm alive" and asking us to make sure her mum and her boyfriend knew she was safe. All we could do was calm her down, stabilise her and get her to hospital. I hope she was OK.

We were stood down from the incident at about 3pm but then had to go for a debriefing session. I'm our local welfare officer so I had to look after a guy, one of my colleagues, who during the debrief went into deep shock.

He had been down the tunnel in King's Cross and had got cuts on his hands from the glass as he tried to move the corpses to get to the injured. As he moved one body a bone had stuck into his hand, so I took him to the hospital to make sure he was OK and to get him tested for hepatitis and things.

It was only when I was driving back home at about 8.30pm that I suddenly thought, Jesus, I've been in the middle of a terrorist attack, and I felt quite shaky.

We have counsellors at work and they have been inundated with colleagues wanting to talk to them about what they saw. Some people have had flashbacks about the things they have seen, particularly when they see the images again on television.

I haven't talked to a counsellor but our messroom acts a bit like a counselling room anyway - we all meet there, talk about what we have seen and how we are feeling.

We are still on a state of high alert. All our leave has been cancelled, and officers have been sent back out on the road to boost our numbers.

Every Thursday is weird. I get pumped full of adrenalin, wondering whether something is going to happen today, and then when it's over and the adrenalin has gone, I'm exhausted.


George Rhoden, 43, is an acting detective inspector in the specialist crime directorate and chairman of the Black Police Association. He has been a police officer for more than 20 years. He was evacuated at King's Cross after the bomb exploded and helped the wounded.

I said a prayer on Thursday morning for the dead, injured and bereaved. I have been coping, and having counselling, but I have problems sleeping.

Travelling on the Tube has been OK apart from one time. I was on my way to work and a woman looked at me and said something about me carrying a bag in the current climate. People began to look at me and I felt I was starting to sweat. It got to me, and I got off the train. I thought that if that can happen to me, what are younger people of colour experiencing?

On 7 July, I was evacuated and saw people covered in dust, crying and talking about an explosion. Then people with obviously severe injuries appeared.

I slung my badge around my neck and the police officer in me took over. The injured gathered around me and I felt like a pied piper. Down the escalators, there were terrible scenes - blood everywhere, discarded equipment, heat and dust.

When I went back to work people were talking about an off-duty officer who had been at King's Cross and acted like a hero. Then I realised they were talking about me.


Michael Henning, a broker, was sat "about six feet away" from the bomb that went off at Aldgate on 7 July, killing seven people. He has since been indirectly involved in three further terrorist incidents

Physically, I'm on the mend - I was only hit by glass and metal - but mentally it has been a real struggle. There have been constant flashbacks and lots of tears, which isn't like me at all.

I haven't got much strength of mind because of the shock. It is so exhausting; your mind is constantly working to capacity, trying to make sense of it all. You just can't pull your socks up. I've had counselling and they've said this is perfectly normal."

I am determined to return stronger. It will take a long time: I've had four brushes with the bombs and I can see it happening to me again. But I like London and London life.

Part of my determination to get back to normal is for the people who died, and for those too horribly injured to resume a normal life.

When the bomb went off, there was a bang and flames; silence at first and then screaming. Fortunately, I was in the next carriage.

The explosion blew the door next to me off its hinges. We were down there 25 minutes ... then we were led off down the train. The people at the other end just looked at us in horror, we were dripping with blood. I felt a barrier between me and people who weren't [involved], which hasn't lifted.


John Falding's girlfriend, Anat Rosenberg, 39, an Israeli, was talking to him on her mobile phone on the bus in Tavistock Square when the bomb exploded. He heard the screams around her before the phone cut off.

Every Thursday at 9.47am, I stop to remember her. Last week I took a few quiet moments to think about her and talk to her. I think that I'll probably be doing that every Thursday at 9.47. I have been back on buses a couple of times but I have tended to avoid them because you wonder if you will make it to the next stop. My own grief comes and goes. Sometimes you feel fine, sometimes you just feel empty and sometimes you just break down.

On 21 July on my way back from a service of remembrance at the British Medical Association offices in Tavistock Square I got caught up in the panic after the attempted bombing at Warren Street. That just brought it all back.

I met Anat's parents when they came to London and they talked about the dreadful irony of her death [she was reluctant to return to her home in Israel because of the suicide bombers there].

At Anat's inquest I met the family of a Nigerian woman who died on the bus with Anat. It showed how diverse London is and how so many communities had been affected.


Luiza Pettersson, 36, survivor from the third carriage on the King's Cross train, who lives in Archway, North London, and travels to her work as an office manager in the Strand, central London.

I'm not travelling on the Tube any more. I've asked myself why and I'm trying to answer the question. Obviously, at the beginning, I was scared and shaken, not so much about the bombing itself, but I think the incident triggered a claustrophobic feeling. It is not that I don't like the idea of being locked in a train but that I am so deep underground.

I did say that I would go back but I have not found the courage yet. I'm not scared about any future bombers because if it happens, it happens. I consider myself basically lucky. The fear I feel is down to the fact that if something happens, I don't want to be underground.

I get the bus to work now. I usually read on the Tube but I when I started travelling by bus, I couldn't concentrate. But I have started reading again and stopped staring at people. The journey takes me longer by bus - about 40 minutes compared with 20 minutes by Tube.

The day after the 7 July bombings, I stayed at home and then I had the weekend to think about it. I went back to work on Monday and at that point, I didn't consider myself psychologically damaged. But when I went out for lunch, I found I was wary about buses and people around me.

I get suspicious of others now, which I don't want to be. It worries me. I don't want to lump people together just because they are the same colour.

I was angry to begin with, whereas now I'm trying to understand what happened. I think what these people do is some form of madness. If I'm angry about anything, it is that people can be so ruthless with other people's lives.