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Firefighters 'lacked equipment' for 7/7 London bombings

The devastated carriage at Aldgate
Image caption Seven victims were killed by a suicide bomber at Aldgate in 2005

Firefighters lacked the training and first aid equipment to treat the most seriously injured, the 7/7 London bombing inquests have heard.

Firefighter Sean Jones said some of the wounded in the 2005 attack at Aldgate were untreatable by the fire service.

His colleague Paul Osborne was overcome with emotion when he gave evidence, having to pause for several seconds.

The inquests are into the deaths of 52 people who were killed by suicide bombers on three Tube trains and a bus.

Mr Jones told the hearings that he spent up to two hours in a bomb-damaged Tube train carriage at Aldgate trying to help the wounded and dying.

'Beyond remit'

He said: "At that stage all we carried on our fire engine was a very basic first aid kit, a number of bandages, elastic tape.

"The nature of the injuries that we saw on the train, there was no mild first aid - it's either seriously injured or they get up and walk off.

"So there was no triage that needed to be done, there was nothing like that. It was just purely a case of the casualties that we saw were way beyond our remit and skill levels to be able to treat.

"So our first aid kit would have been useless anyway."

He added: "We needed paramedics and Hems [Helicopter Emergency Medical Service] there."

Hugo Keith QC, counsel to the inquests, asked him: "In truth there was nothing that you or perhaps the police officers could have done for them because none of you had the specialist medical equipment?"

Mr Jones, who was based at Southwark fire station in south London at the time, replied: "There was nothing that could have been done."

Clearly upset

The firefighter said the lack of radio communications in the Tube tunnel made no difference to him.

He said: "We just did what we needed to do. At no point did we look for instruction or require instruction. We just got on with the work that needed to be done."

His colleague Mr Osborne was clearly upset as he described how he moved the body of victim Carrie Taylor from the carriage.

He told the inquest that a medic pronounced her dead and there was then some consideration over where to place her.

"She's also a person, even though she's deceased. The fire service...," he said, before stopping for about half a minute. He was offered a glass of water, but declined the judge's suggestion of taking a break.

He continued: "The fire service prides itself on looking after the deceased and the living.

"So we made the decision to remove her and place her next to the carriage where she wouldn't be disturbed any more."

Ms Taylor, from Billericay, Essex, was working as a finance officer at the Royal Society of Arts when she was killed by Shehzad Tanweer, one of the four bombers who carried out the London attacks.

Six other people died on the Aldgate train.

Burn injuries

Ms Taylor's father, John, said to Mr Osborne at the end of his evidence: "I thank you very much for what you did for my daughter."

A statement from firefighter Darren Buckley, read in court, described people with "blackened" faces and burn injuries exiting the Tube station.

He treated one woman with burns on her face, and then went to collect some fire hose from the appliance.

When Mr Buckley returned to the station, a man with his face covered in soot said: "You won't be needing that, you don't need water. I looked at him and said 'What do you mean?' and he said, 'It's not a fire, that was [a] bomb'.

"He told me that there was worse downstairs in the train."

One firefighter, Neil Walker, told the inquest how he "watched a young man die" before medics reached the carriage.

He said he believed passenger Richard Ellery, a 21-year-old shop worker, was less in need of help than others, because he was able to give his name.

'Health and safety'

But the inquest heard that Mr Ellery, from Ipswich, Suffolk, died shortly afterwards while rescuers were waiting for a stretcher to remove him from the train.

Mr Walker said: "I was pretty shocked about that because I had recently spoken to him. It was quite an awful moment, as you can imagine."

Also at the inquest, a now-retired firefighter, Stephen Foster, launched an attack on the health and safety culture of the fire service.

He said he had to wait before entering the Tube tunnel at Aldgate, because of rules about ensuring the power to the tracks was switched off.

He said most firefighters "have been brought up in a health and safety environment" and described himself as a "maverick" who had entered the tunnel, along with his crew, before being given clearance.

Mr Foster also saw Mr Ellery a short time before he died.

Mr Foster said: "I felt for a pulse and we made eye contact, and there was still some life in there. It was still there, it didn't last particularly long but it was still there. I gave him a cuddle."

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