5 June 2006
To be attributed to Chief Executive Peter
“The events of 7 July were unprecedented and the courageous
actions of our staff and their colleagues from other agencies
undoubtedly saved lives.
“We have acknowledged we faced difficulties with communications
that day, but this did not prevent us treating and transporting
more than 400 patients to hospital from all the sites within three
hours; this is a testament to the way everyone involved handled
what was a tremendously challenging situation.
“We have been honest about the fact that there were a number of
lessons to learn, and indeed the Committee has previously praised
us for the amount of information we have made available.
“While the committee’s findings broadly reflect those of our own
debriefs, we will study the recommendations closely to ensure they
are fully addressed in our ongoing work to further improve our
ability to manage future incidents.”
- Ends -
Notes to editors:
Our full response provided to the Assembly in March can be found
Improvements to our major incident planning since 7
Since the events of 7 July, we have made a number of
improvements to the way we will respond to major incidents. These
- Issuing radio pagers to managers for use in major
- Developing a pre-determined response for any future major
incidents, including sending 20 ambulances and six managers to the
scene as soon as a major incident is declared.
- Reconfiguring our new incident control room, with an improved
ability to manage multiple simultaneous major incidents.
- Successfully lobbying to be brought forward in the rollout of
the new national digital radio system for ambulance services. This
will be introduced next summer and will be fully operational in
early 2008. Ahead of this we will also be receiving an interim
allocation of 200 digital radio handsets. The first of these will
be arriving next month and will be issued to operational
- Reviewing levels of equipment carried on our emergency support
vehicles, as well as now carrying additional supplies on 25
training officer vehicles.
Our response to specific issues within the London Assembly’s
Communications / mobile phone issues
We have been open about the fact that we were over-reliant on
mobile phones. We have now issued all our managers with radio
pagers, which are more resilient in a major incident.
Technically our radios worked, though we have admitted that the
volume of traffic on our radio system made it difficult for
managers to get through and speak to the control room. We have made
changes to our internal procedures to address these problems, and
have reconfigured our major incident control room so we can deal
more effectively with a number of simultaneous incidents. The
Service has also been brought forward in the roll-out programme for
a new national digital radio system for ambulance services, and
this should be fully operational early in 2008.
To clarify, it was our managers who had difficulty in
communicating with our central control room that day; once at scene
our ambulance crews come under the direct control of local
management teams and do not need to contact our control room for
instructions, either by mobile phone or radio.
Use of hospitals
On 7 July, we initially put all the hospitals in London on
standby, letting them know that a major incident had occurred and
that we might need their assistance. We then confirmed with seven
hospitals that we would be bringing patients into them.
Distribution of patients to these hospitals was generally good,
with the exception of the Royal London Hospital which received
three busloads of patients with minor injuries from two of the
scenes. Faced with communication problems, our operational managers
on the ground quite rightly took the decision to use the buses
based on information they were receiving from ambulance crews and
their local knowledge of hospitals in the area.
There is no doubt, however, that if communications had been
better, we would have achieved a better distribution of patients
with minor injuries by spreading the load across three or more
Delay in additional ambulances being sent to Russell
We got to all the scenes very quickly and gave priority to those
people who were most seriously injured, treating and taking them to
hospital as quickly as possible.
We experienced delays in getting a second wave of ambulances to
Russell Square; our communication problems made it difficult for
our managers to request further resources, and it is also evident
that ambulance crews who were on their way to Russell Square
instead became involved with the rescue operation at the bus
bombing in nearby Tavistock Square. Once it became apparent that
this was happening, staff were redeployed to Russell Square.
The delays in sending the second wave of ambulances meant that
it took us longer to get the less seriously injured patients to
hospital, but we still managed to treat over 400 patients and take
them from the sites within three hours.
Availability of medical equipment
Given the nature of the incidents and the large number of
casualties involved, it was inevitable that medical supplies were
going to be used up quickly. We accept that there were delays in
getting further equipment to some of the scenes, but we worked hard
do address this and were able to move all patients to hospital
within three hours.
We have since reviewed levels of equipment carried on our
emergency support vehicles, and we also now carry additional
supplies on 25 of our training officer vehicles.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please call
London Ambulance Service communications department on 020 7921