The bottom line is that no one can really prepare for such an eventuality and even those amongst us that try still believe it will never happen to us...otherwise we would have all built Ned Flanders style bomb shelters in our back yards.
The emergency services will inevitably react when called upon to do so but Joe Public will never be psycologically prepared for the carnage of bomb blasts on the scale of Madrid or somethuing like the twin towers.......
I dont think the public in general is prepared for such an occurance and the emergency services/civil defence are definatly not prepared. OK so we have N.I to draw experience from, but that is in no where near the same league as we are talking about. A few bombs go off round london we can handle but a 747 crashing into parliament square or Buck palace? Or god forbid a dirty bomb somewhere public or a bio/chem attack in the underground (Which i think is the more likely at this stage) like the Sarin attack in tokyo?
I think it is best to get out our spoons and start digging!
The IRA references are valid but when was the last time a major device went off on the UK mainland? I suspect many of the plans that used to exist have fallen into some sort of unpractised disrepair.
The circumstances of 'the next one' will be different to anything we've had before.
No 'cosy' telephone code word warnings, probably multiple devices, placed to cause maximum carnage (casualties).
London is a prime target because of its perceived PR value to terrorists. There has been some preparation but you can't really prepare for this sort of act. If its NBC god help us all because there is very little prep and even less kit.
Ref my earlier post. When you have a Publicity junkie like Livingston in charge, I predict the aftermath of an attack on London will be absolute confusion and non joined -up efforts of undertrained emergency services. Followed by a high level inquiry by some American, loads of "lessons learnt" that will never be acted upon. It will also give them an excuse to raise council tax by another 50%
I have no faith that that the emergency services in London could cope with any level of attack. Running evacuation exercises on the Tube is one thing but what is needed in professional training and exercises in disaster management, run by the Armed forces at a place like Shrivenham.
When it happens, the public will be appalled at how poorly prepared we are.
But it should provide plenty of photo opportunties for Mad Ken.
It seems to me that the majority of Londoners are of the opinion that they will carry on regardless and not let the terrorists win.
I have heard plenty of people stating that London is well prepared due to the IRA bombing campaign all those years ago. I do not think that the civillian population realises how different an AQ attack on London would be when compared with the IRA.
No part of the UK would cope well with an AQ attack, it will definately not be pretty.
Interestingly on last nights London news the Fire Brigade were complaining that after 9/11 the government had promised them additional equipment / training etc, to date nothing has been received.
It would be nice to think that when the inevitable happens that the British public will react with stoicism and a quiet determination that the terrorists will never win.
Unfortunately after Princess Diana's death we have become used to the public spectacle of much wailing, gnashing of teeth and beating of breasts. The media will cast around to blame some hapless copper who despite trying to do his job doesn't have the funding to support him. A year later everyone who saw the scenes on TV will claim that they have PTSD and receive huge payouts (from the taxpayer).
The Government will announce a review of security and intelligence that will blame everyone but the extremists responsible. They will then appoint Mandelson as Minister of Security and announce draconic (but unworkable) laws to combat terrorism.
The only winners in this would seem to be Interflora, Clinton cards and teddy bear manufacturers. Time to buy some shares I think.
Terrorist incidents on an 11th September or Madrid scale clearly exceed our experience. The Blitz may compare on body counts but there was some warning, a chance to get to shelter and The Few of Crab Air (respect) were up there. Terrorism is more uncertain and deliberately vicious.
Could we cope? I dont think Im giving the terrorists any ideas here, theyll have thought of it. Have our masters and emergency planners?
A series of co-ordinated attacks on key locations across the country would have a devastating physcological and 'strategic' effect. A large hospital, a supermarket, water pumping station, power generation or distribution, railway station, bridge on an arterial road. Emergency services get knocked out by secondary devices (police found and disarmed them in Madrid). Everyone is afraid to move. CivPol are overwhelmed and call on Armed Forces to Aid the Civil Power. Are there enough of us (not overseas on General Bliar's crusades) regulars, reservists, pensioners of recall age? Will those ex Servicemen/women with no recall liability suddenly find themselves back in uniform anyway? ( It'll probably be necessary and preferable to arming traffic wardens ) What about kit and transport?
The Government would be telling us not to jump to conclusions in blaming Al-Qaeda. It may be an animal liberation movement or the flip side, disenfranchised fox hunters.
CIVIL LIBERTIES! Stopping and searching, cant go there, out of bounds, no squaddie is telling me what to do ..etc. Eastenders is cancelled if you still have power to work the TV.
Muslims and foreigners/citizens of non European appearance would suffer, without regard to their loyalties. Further chaos for the police to deal with as rioting kicks off in the ghettos. In the knock on, racial disharmony would spread to other countries.
Spot on Percy - but you forgot the medals for journalists and John Simpson leading the charge down a devestated Whitehall screetscape.
Books deals for all the journalists reporting on the story before most of the wounded can be treated( but nothing from those actually involved).
Cherie Blair leads "Day of Mourning" as the Mother of a Devestated nation ( picking up a nice free designer suit for the occaision) in St Pauls Cathederal and the Archbishop of Canterburry reminds us it is all our fault for being British and urges us to see it from the terrorists perspective..
The Palace politely ask if they can assist and are attacked by The Guardian, The Independent and the BBC for being publicity gathering toffs.
Andrew Gilligan does an early morning report, but gets the day and place wrong.
Tube drivers go on strike cos...well... that's what tube drivers do. Maintainance workers go on stike cos their beer fridge got blown up.
Lord Hutton inquires into the attrocity and decides it was all in our imagination.
The Mirror claims that Jordan was sp*t roasted by the terrorists the night before the attack.
London's premiership football stars go on a drugs and sex binge to cope with the stress of being off the front page for a day.
Gordon Brown introduces a Grief Tax and hires hundreds of accountants to administer it.
Tony Blair hopes the cameras got his good side and Geoff Hoon hopes that someone will tell him what the hell is going on.
The '92 city bomb cracked glass in my windows, and the ring of steel is a local joke!
Post 9/11 I had goods delivered via the in road from Liverpool Street Station and not one of the 'hundreds' of officers deployed to defend the city so much as asked to see the two occupants drivers licence, were where they from? Iraq...
I have a cupboard full of emergency equipment I can't think straight to look in, I, by pre-function, change water and rotate batteries each week in the same routine as I check my smoke alarms...
I talk to my kids, not really the younger, about what to do if anything happens, am I creating fear in them, or survivor instinct?
We never use the tube; it never felt safe post Tokyo...
Am I ready if anything happens? No.
And Im to scared to contemplate it...
During WW2, and for quite some time afterwards when the possibility of major incidents causing mass casualties and/or severe disruption to the infrastructure of the nation was still considered a threat, there were plans in place, and we had organisations ready to respond. Chief amongst these was the Civil Defence Corps, which had personnel, vehicles and equipment for heavy rescue, salvage and first aid. It was finally disbanded in 1968 by politicians who, adopting the 'it'll never happen' approach, saw an opportunity to save money.
At a recent (fairly high-level) meeting I attended about 'resilience' (the new Civil Defence), the conclusion was (perhaps inevitably), to hold another meeting in 6-12 months. The Govt reps seemed more concerned about 'engaging' people and 'ensuring equality of opportunity' than actually tackling the problem.
Chapter 4: Resilience and New Dimension
4.1 Resilience is deﬁned as the ability to manage disruptive challenges, such as terrorist attacks or major ﬂooding that can lead to or result in crisis.
4.2 The Government's aim in building resilience capacity is to ensure public safety is maintained by taking practical steps to reduce the likelihood of such incidents occurring and responding quickly and effectively when they do.
4.3 To build resilience within Fire and Rescue Authorities, in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001, the Government launched the 'New Dimension' programme. New Dimension seeks to ensure that Fire and Rescue Authorities are sufﬁciently trained and equipped to deal safely and effectively with major chemical, nuclear, biological and conventional terrorist incidents on a national scale. The Government announced plans to spend £56 million to purchase equipment for phase one of the New Dimension programme. Phase one will be completed by March 2004. The equipment includes purpose-built response vehicles, portable shower units and specialist protective clothing.
4.4 The Government is also providing a further £132m for phase two of the New Dimension programme, which includes the purchase of modern search and rescue equipment such as heavy lifting gear, search cameras and high volume water pumps which will improve authorities' capacity to respond to incidents involving, for example, collapsed buildings. The revenue implications of this investment will be met by the Government. A national co-ordination centre is being created to provide central command and control. The ﬁrst tranche of training materials for phase one of the New Dimension programme have been delivered; phase two training is being developed and the Fire Service College will run courses from April 2004. This will help to achieve the safe and effective management of operations outlined in paragraph 3.21.
4.5 The new vehicles and equipment will be strategically located around the country to enable effective, coordinated national and regional responses to any large-scale incident. The location of Incident Response Units for phase one has been decided on the basis of a risk assessment exercise. The location of the Urban Search and Rescue vehicles for phase two is yet to be determined and will also be subject to a robust, objective risk assessment exercise, which is due to be completed in early 2004. The Government will provide New Dimension appliances and equipment to be used to supplement local Fire and Rescue Authorities' vehicles and equipment. This will ensure that ﬁreﬁghters are trained in, and familiar with, their use.
4.6 ODPM is funding the procurement of a new national radio system for Fire and Rescue Authorities (the Firelink radio project) in order to increase resilience and interoperability within the service and with other emergency services. It will replace the radio systems currently owned and managed by authorities.
4.7 It is planned that the new radio system will roll out from Autumn 2004 to the end of 2007, when the low-band VHF radio spectrum used by the Fire and Rescue Authorities in England and Wales is being withdrawn. While the Firelink project is being developed, we recognise that it is essential to safeguard the performance of existing radio communications systems. ODPM is therefore funding measures that will sustain high-risk items of existing systems thereby ensuring they continue to be operationally effective until they can be replaced.
4.8 The roll-out of Firelink will be dovetailed with the implementation of regional control rooms (see paragraph 2.13), to maximise systems interoperability and reduce costs. Having a single national call-handling and mobilisation system linked to the national radio system will increase ﬂexibility and resilience.
Statutory responsibilities of Fire and Rescue Authorities
4.9 The proposed Fire and Rescue Services Bill aims to provide the Secretary of State with the power to extend duties to Fire and Rescue Authorities to deal with new threats such as terrorist attacks. These provisions will be used to place all authorities under a duty to equip for and respond as necessary to wider emergencies such as chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents; serious ﬂooding; incidents requiring major urban search and rescue capability and major non-road transport disasters. This will largely clarify the existing role and duties of Fire and Rescue Authorities, which have developed piecemeal over a number of years. Authorities will also be required to use and maintain any equipment as speciﬁed by the Secretary of State including mass decontamination and search and rescue equipment provided under New Dimension and the new Firelink radio system.
Roll out? Dovetailed? Interoperability? In the event of a major attack, hopefully the Government's emergency broadcasts will be in English............................and appropriate minority languages.