The response of the emergency services to the London and Manchester terror attacks: lessons to be learned
The recent terror attacks in Manchester and London resulted in a tsunami of severe casualties which were distributed to a number of accident and emergency departments in those two major cities. The manner in which the individuals involved were transported, received and dealt with acutely by the emergency services and medical teams has been widely praised, but there are still undoubtedly important lessons to be learned; particularly as these are clearly not the last in a series of terrorist incidents. This specially convened meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine in September was addressed by some of the doctors who were involved first-hand in caring for many of the casualties, both in Manchester and in London.
After an introduction by Helen Gordon CEO of the Royal Society of Medicine, we heard first-hand from Duncan Bew and Malcolm Tunnicliff about how Kings College NHS Trust – a major trauma centre – dealt so efficiently with both the Westminster and London Bridge terror attacks. Rebecca Bott and Michelle Wilkinson then described the impact of these events on them as junior doctors.
The second session was chaired by Professor Noel Clarke and consisted of talks by Mr Joshi George – Consultant Neurosurgeon – and Susan Beards – Consultant Anaesthetist – as well as from Dr Owen King, also an anaesthetist, one of the junior doctors on duty on the evening of the Manchester Arena atrocity.
After tea, Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, gave an excellent overview of the police response to the attacks – including “scoop and run” tactics for severely injured patients – and discussed the readiness of the force for further attacks, and how these might be thwarted. Mr Chris Moran, an orthopaedic surgeon and National Clinical Director for Trauma, discussed coordinated planning for terrorist atrocities and how this could be improved. The final presentation came from Mr Garrett Emmerson, Director of the London Ambulance Service, who described the praiseworthy response of the ambulance services in distributing casualties to a number of hospitals around the capital. The session concluded with a panel discussion in which the lessons to be learned were distilled and discussed with lively audience participation.