Borough Market attack: 'Londoners should be proud of the way they helped terror victims'

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Londoners should be proud of their response to the Borough Market terror attack, a leading surgeon said today as he revealed how patients and passers-by helped each other to survive the atrocity.

Duncan Bew, clinical director of the major trauma centre at King’s College Hospital, described how people trapped inside the “hot zone” cordon  tended to each other’s injuries as police dealt with the terrorists.

Speaking 100 days after the attack – which began when a van was driven into pedestrians on London Bridge – he revealed that the condition of some victims with serious injuries had worsened as they were held behind the cordon at the market. 

Mr Bew said: “The fact they survived is testament not only to the extreme bravery but also the humility and humanitarian effort shown by the first responders, the off-duty people who were in the market at the time but also the general public. 

Testament: King’s College Hospital trauma surgeon Duncan Bew

“A huge amount of psychological and physical support and first aid was given by victims to each other.”

He added: “When those patients then arrived at the hospital, for many of them their first concern was not for themselves but for the other person who had been with them in the ambulance. It was quite a heart-warming thing to see, that level of camaraderie and support.”

Mr Bew praised the resilience of the injured, saying patients he had treated had shown “a remarkable recovery”.

He said: “There is a huge community spirit in London and we should be proud to be from London.”

The surgeon first heard about the atrocity on Twitter as he was putting his son and the boy’s friends to bed during a birthday sleepover on 3 June.

He hastily arranged childcare and rushed to King’s College Hospital  only to find it eerily quiet. “All the ambulances had gone to the scene. It was almost like a tsunami when all the water had gone out,” he said. 

Attack: Londoners flee in the aftermath of the terror attack in Borough Market (PA)

“Very soon the first patients started to arrive and then we got patients with an immediate life-threatening injury, sometimes multiple patients, every five minutes for over an hour.

“The early patients were basically ‘scooped and run’ – and often arrived in police vans, often multiple patients in one vehicle.”

Then a second wave of patients arrived from the hot zone. King’s took 20 people from the attack, many with complex injuries.

‘It was pandemonium’ says officer who helped London Bridge attack victims

All of those injured who made it to hospital survived, and Mr Bew said this was testament to the skill of those at the scene and police for dealing with the attack quickly. 

He added: “I don’t think it was a miracle that everyone who got to hospital survived, I think we made our own luck.”

The surgeon said that the successful way the hospital dealt with the flood of patients was partly down to its staff’s experience dealing with  day-to-day injuries.

Many victims of London stabbings and shootings “walk-in” or “self-present” to the hospital, giving doctors and nurses no warning. 

Mr Bew said: “We cannot rest on our laurels, we need to be prepared for a huge diversity of different  challenges, different patterns of major incident, such as chemical or biological attack.”

He highlighted a CitizenAid scheme which teaches first aid skills such as how to stop bleeding and how to act at the scene of an emergency.


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