UK ambulance bosses questioned over medics 'leaving London Bridge terror attack victims to die'

Eight people were killed and 48 others were injured when three terrorists attacked pedestrians

One of the terrorists behind the 2017 attack on London Bridge worked in a classroom and raised questions about the regulation of schools. Metropolitan Police via AP
One of the terrorists behind the 2017 attack on London Bridge worked in a classroom and raised questions about the regulation of schools. Metropolitan Police via AP

UK ambulance leaders faced questioning on Monday over possible failures to save lives during the London Bridge terror attack.

Eight people were killed and 48 others were injured when three attackers mowed down pedestrians in the popular tourist area in a van in June 2017 before running amok with knives.

The three attackers – Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22 – were all shot dead within 10 minutes of the start of the rampage.

Lawyers acting for the victims’ families challenged ambulance chiefs over why paramedics allegedly failed to go to the aid of some of the injured despite being just feet away.

An inquest into the deaths has been ongoing at London’s Old Bailey.

Paul Woodrow, the ambulance service’s operations director, and Dr Fenella Wrigley, its medical director, faced questioning over why the first paramedic to enter the Boro Bistro courtyard arrived at the scene three hours after the attack despite having received hostile environment training.

Mr Woodrow told the court it was a "chaotic situation" and they had received more than 130 calls.

He told the hearing that paramedics would never be sent into areas where there was an active terror threat.

He said they assessed threat levels as "hot" and "warm" zones.

“Only specialist firearms officers go into hot zones to neutralise the threat," he told the inquest.

“Warm zones are areas where commanders make joint decisions about deploying assets — they set up how far they go into warm zones based on the latest intelligence.”

Five paramedics were standing feet away from where half the victims lost their lives but did not go to their aid claiming they were “unaware” there were victims in the courtyard, the inquest had previously heard.

Two of the victims, James McMullan and Sebastien Belanger, may have had a greater chance of survival if help had arrived sooner.

Mr Woodrow add: “Clearly there were communication issues in relation to people who were below street level in terms of understanding where resources were. I accept that.”

The first emergency calls received informing paramedics that people had been stabbed at the restaurant were received eight minutes after the attacks commenced and the first paramedics arrived on scene 15 minutes after it had started.

Two other people who died near the site were Alexandre Pigeard, a French waiter, and Kirsty Boden, an off-duty nurse who was stabbed as she tried to help others.

Gareth Patterson QC previously told the inquest: “Something clearly went wrong on the night with communicating with police officers out there dealing with the casualties.”

London Ambulance Service has declined to comment while the inquest is ongoing.

The inquest earlier heard that the terrorists were inspired by notorious extremist preacher Anjem Choudary.

Ringleader Butt started associating with the former leader of the now-banned Al Muhajiroun extremist group as he changed from a “well-mannered” schoolboy to a murderous extremist who sought to justify the beheadings of ISIS prisoners in Syria.

Choudary was jailed in 2015 for inviting support for ISIS after years of using his legal training to stay on the right side of the law. He was released from prison in October last year.

His organisation has been held responsible by authorities for radicalising young Britons, many of whom have been involved in domestic attacks or travelled abroad to join the ranks of ISIS.

Updated: June 17, 2019 07:37 PM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read