'Chaos' in 7/7 ambulance control HQ

Monday 28 February 2011 17:28

Ambulance controllers trying to respond to the 7/7 attacks worked in chaos amid a series of gaffes, the terror inquest heard today.

Only one woman was tasked with logging all the emergency calls, vital information was written on scraps of paper and the employee in charge of updating the control room white board could only reach half way up it.

Jason Killens, London Ambulance Service's deputy director of operations, also said staff transferring from their normal control room positions to the 'Gold' disaster control room caused a delay because they had not logged off properly.

They then could not log on to the new system as calls from the four terror sites - where 52 innocent people were killed - built up and bottlenecked.

Hugo Keith QC, counsel to the inquest, said the 7/7 LAS loggist said: "I am not a trained typist, I use two fingers and a thumb.

"Surely common sense would dictate using someone who could type properly."

The confusion in the control room at Waterloo was spelt out in a debriefing document that was read out.

"At the beginning of the incident, it was organised chaos.

"There were communications issues throughout," the paper said, adding that radio channels were blocked up and no feedback was coming in from "Silver" ambulance bosses on the ground.

There was so much information coming in, control room staff could not prioritise it effectively.

A group of employees were even sent to Bow to set up a "fallback" control room, said Mr Killens, but it was not used.

The mismanagement and failed radio and mobile phone networks meant there were serious delays in dispatching paramedics to bomb sites.

There was a delay of nearly an hour in getting ambulances to the bus blast in Tavistock Square, where fundamentalist Hasib Hussain, 18, killed 13 people.

And there was a delay of 30 minutes dispatching to Russell Square, where Jermaine Lindsay, 19, killed 26 people.

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