Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lessons of the London Bombings for Australia

The Australian Attorney General released a report 22 May 2007 "Lessons from London and Considerations for Australia: London Terrorist Attacks 7 July 2005", (St John Ambulance and EMA, ISBN 1921152052 , 2007) . The report was the result of a conference organised by St John Ambulance and is available on the Emergency Management Australia (EMA) web site.

EMA also include the London bombing in their database of disasters. One aspect of the disaster was that it overloaded the ambulance services of London, thus the interest of Australian St John Ambulance in lessons to be learned:
London Ambulance Service reported that they treated approximately 45 patients for critical and serious injuries, including burns, amputations, head, chest and
blast injuries and fractured limbs. Approximately 350 patients were treated for minor injuries such as lacerations, smoke inhalation, shock, cuts and bruises.
Over 100 ambulance vehicles attended the incident and took patients to a number of hospitals including Royal London Hospital, University College Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and Royal Free Hospital. Patients with
minor injuries were taken to hospital by voluntary aid agency ambulances and public buses.

From: London transport bombings, EMA, 7/7/2005

Some of the points raised in the report are the role of volunteers and the need for better communications. I discussed this in my talk at CeBit on dealing with a bird flu pandemic using the wireless web. The report also questions how well even a major city could cope with a more sustained attack.

Unfortunately the London report will not be as widely read as it should, due to the way EMA formatted and distributed it. The report is only 28 pages long, but has been formatted in PDF with high resolution images, as a result this the document is 2.74 Mbytes, far larger than it need be. Also copying from the report has been disabled, making it difficult to reformat into a more efficient format and to quote from.

One of the lessons of the London bombings is that better communications are needed for disaster management and this invovles the whole community. This is a lesson EMA need to learn and act on in providing information to the public online. The Australian Government Information Management Office have produced a good Government Web Publishing Guide which EMA should implement.

See also "Emergency Web Page Design for Local Government".

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