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GPC negotiators describe aftermath of 7/7 bombings

By Christian Duffin

A leading GP who treated victims at the scene of the 7 July London bombings has estimated that some ambulances did not arrive until an hour after the blast, but rejected suggestions that the delays could have contributed to any deaths.

Dr Peter Holden, a GP from Matlock, Derbyshire and a member of the GPC negotiating team, was giving evidence at the coroner's inquest into the terrorist attacks in London on 7 July 2005.

Dr Holden and colleagues at the BMA headquarters in Tavistock Square helped victims in the aftermath of the explosion on a number 30 bus which took place very close by. The explosion killed 13 people.

Dr Holden and colleagues treated victims in the courtyard of the BMA building. They were able to use some basic medical items to treat victims before paramedics arrived. Dr Holden said that one colleague put in a drip even though he would not have done such a procedure for 20 years.

‘I said at the time to colleagues, when we were debriefing at, what, 12.15, 12.20, something like: "If you actually look at it, apart from those who had died, people who left us left us in better condition than they'd arrived".'

He added: ‘If what you're trying to lead me to say is "Did people die because of lack of kit?" I don't think so.'

Dr Holden said of the initial explosion: ‘Essentially, we heard a loud bang. I do remember everything going salmon pink at just about the same time and, in the main office, some of the staff beginning to make a lot of commotion, and came out of the office and could see the white smoke and the tree canopy gone.'

Dr Michelle Drage, another GP who was at the BMA headquarters at the time, said of the initial explosion: ‘It's not like it's a huge bang, there is a bang, but it's more like a large thud.'

Dr Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, added: ‘At that point, almost instantaneously, one of my colleagues jumped into my arms. We went down on the floor. There was huge vibration in the room.'

‘There was very little medically that we could do in terms of providing a field hospital in battle, immediate care, but there was a lot that we did or could have done on a human basis, supporting and recognising and providing reassurance and general support.'

It felt like a ‘long time' before equipment such as fluids arrived, she said.

‘I think even basic things like stethoscopes, to be honest, would have been helpful at the time, and you would have thought we would all be carrying them around with us, but we don't, and so there were some basic items that you would use -- I mean, I'm a GP – but obviously you would have available in an appropriate setting, and even in a field hospital, that we didn't have, for obvious reasons.'

Dr Peter Holden: 'I remember everything going salmon pink' Dr Peter Holden: 'I remember everything going salmon pink'

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