Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Coroner Questions

Pants came a little bit close to being blown up for my liking. You can read her piece on that terrible London day here. I suppose many came close to being a victim of survivor.

Fortunately by the time we were in London in three years later, my memories of places affected by the bombs had faded. One was near Edgware Road Station, Edgware Road a street we were in a few times. Another was near Kings Cross Station, a station we used. Edgware Road is a street where a lot of Middle Eastern men and I would assume many get there by catching the Underground. Seems an odd place for Muslims to set off a bomb.

I have started following the coronial inquest of the 2005 London public transport bombings where fifty two people were killed. You can hear a seven minute recording of some of the confusion among Underground and Control Room staff. Click here for the recording from the Guardian to listen. The best that can be said is no none seemed to panic.

From the Guardian.

staff did not call a code amber, in which the entire underground network is closed, until 9.19am, almost 30 minutes after the first three bombs had been detonated.

Snipped from The Independent.

The inquest heard that the emergency response was marred by a series of failings that might have delayed urgent medical care to those underground. They included:

:: Staff at the London Underground co-ordination centre continued to tell colleagues the incident was not terrorist-related at 9.32am, 44 minutes after the first explosion;

:: The Piccadilly Line manager, based at Earls Court, could not make outgoing calls from 9am onwards because the telephone system was overloaded;

:: Firefighters waited for confirmation from Tube staff that power was off, despite a police officer placing his foot on the third rail at Aldgate;

:: Confusion over which direction the Algate train was facing, which part of it was damaged, and whether it was in Aldgate or Aldgate East;

:: Emergency services were sent to Praed Street, in Paddington, instead of Chapel Street, where Edgware Road station is located, and to Liverpool Street, not Aldgate;

:: One of the Tube's specialist response units was still stuck in traffic in Clapham, south London, at 9.40am, as it waited for a police escort.

No doubt London Underground had emergency procedures but I hope they have refined them since then. I hope Australia's various underground train systems have very good emergency procedures. I know Melbourne and Sydney have had rehearsals. In a disastrous emergency such as the London bombing, many many are dependent for perhaps their lives on not so very many people. It is just no good being wise after the event. Fail safe systems must be in place and must work among chaos and confusion.


  1. I'm not sure our response would be better.

    I noticed yesterday a female P plate driver dawdling in the centre lane refusing to get out of the way of an ambulance with sirens blaring apparently unaware (or uncaring) of her responsibilities.

    In my younger days all traffic would pull over and stop at the sound of a siren. Nowadays it seems most drivers think it is everyone else's responsibility other than their's to make way.

  2. You pose some good questions Andrew. I wonder, are we ready? I also agree with Victor, I've also seen blatant ignoring of sirens recently - maybe it's the fact so many have ipods stuck in their ears?

  3. Yep, have seen blatant refusal or ignorance to make way for ambulances recently, too.
    More idiots on the road that need your special attention, Andrew :P
    As for our underground system - I read that their radios and mobiles didn't work underground; as mobiles don't work in ours do I assume we have the same black spot for technology?

  4. Unfortunately I think Black Saturday showed that we may not be ready and I say that as an ex-cop

  5. Victor, I think half the problem is young people have their music so loud and they seem quite distracted by everything except driving.

    Cheryl, people ignoring sirens is not something I have really noticed lately, but yes, ipods.

    Our mobile phones certainly don't work in our City Loop Jayne. I expect the in house communication does. It had better.

    Yes Loz, how can we not be unprepared for fire?

  6. I think sometimes it takes a genuine emergency to find failings in emergency systems. Unfortunately, this is the time you stand to lose most.

  7. My station (Russell Square) had the makeshift morgue out the front for ages. One of the trains was blown up just outside of the station. Thankfully I was in Portugal at the time, but it was still nerve wracking trying to contact friends to make sure they were all ok (they were). During the second failed attempt I went shopping. I figured the streets would be quiet and I'd take advantage.
    When Russell Square re-opened it had a strange smell, kinda like Brasso or some sort of metal polish.

  8. Me, I think we have had enough of them and should have learnt.

    Fen, horrible when it is a place you know well.

  9. Actually, I had quite forgotten. But my boss's son was living in London at the time and normally caught one of the bombed trains. This particular morning though, he was running late....

  10. Many near misses like that KN. Sadly some worked the other way.