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28 October 2014
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London Bombings

Emergency Response Unit (training video footage)

7 July: Emergency Reponse Unit

London Underground's emergency response unit trained with the military to deal with an event like a terrorist attack. Few ever thought they would need that expertise until 7th July. BBC London's Andrew Winstanley spoke to two of the men involved.

The first reports after the 7th July attacks began were confused. The Network Control Centre thought they were witnessing a massive power failure.

Around half an hour after the initial explosion the Tube's Emergency Response Unit, ERU, were called, and given the briefest of information. They carry enough specialist equipment to respond to any incident though. A passenger suicide, a defective train, or a terrorist attack.

Ex Royal Greenjacket's platoon Sergeant, Joe Moore, was with his team on a training day. But they were bleeped too. They commandeered an unmarked vehicle and got to their base in Acton. There they saw News 24, and realised what was really happening.

Joe Moore and the rest of the ERU men on duty were sent to all three bomb sites, providing expert technical backup to the rescue teams. Using their heavy lifting gear, and cutting equipment – they were able to get the ambulance and fire teams in to areas the bomb damage had cut off.

Concentrate

Joe says it was a nervous time, as no-one really knew if there were secondary devices, and people were jumping at the slightest bang.

Joe Moore

What they saw there's no need to describe, and the men of the ERU, had to put their emotions aside and concentrate on the job. Over the next 21 days the teams worked in shifts, helping the police search and forensic teams amass the evidence that would give them an idea of exactly what had happened.

A lot of the work was just pure physical effort, hauling carriages by hand using winches in temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. All this, and they still had to keep the rest of the railway running attending routine track and train failures too.

The ERU were in some ways the forgotten heroes though and have only now spoken about their part in the aftermath of 7/7.

Click on the video link in the right hand column to watch this news report.

(The 7 July Assistance Centre is open until 8pm on 10 July. The helpline number is 0845 054 7444.)

last updated: 07/07/06
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