The emergency services defended their response to the July 7 bombings last night after a damning official report exposed a catalogue of failings in the chaotic aftermath of the attacks.
Massive communication problems, a lack of basic medical supplies and a "completely unacceptable" failure to properly care for thousands of survivors were just some of the serious deficiencies it identified in the rescue operation.
While recognising the heroism of countless individuals, the report said they were too often let down by the system and a lack of proper planning.
The London Resilience Partnership (LRF) - which represents key emergency services such as police, ambulance and transport - vowed to learn the lessons of the report by the London Assembly's July 7 review committee.
But LRF chair Phil Woolas argued there was "no doubt that lives had been saved" by the professionalism of the response.
Contingency plans had been honed and tested over four years and were carried out with "incredible acts of bravery", he insisted.
However, the Assembly's highly critical report said the emergency plans ignored the needs of many individuals caught up in the attacks.
Richard Barnes, who led the investigation, said: "They focused on incidents but not individuals, and processes rather than people. It is vital that these plans are reviewed and updated to address this major issue."
The committee said it was "unacceptable" that the emergency services were still unable to communicate by radio when underground - despite the recommendations which followed the King's Cross fire 18 years ago. There was also an over-reliance on the mobile phone network, it said.
In the rush to save lives, details were not taken of the walking wounded, who may have needed trauma counselling. As many as 6,000 people were likely to have been severely psychologically affected by the explosions, but the majority are still not known to the authorities or part of any support network.
Only hospitals with casualty units were put on alert. Great Ormond Street children's hospital, near the Russell Square site, was never alerted - although a field hospital was set up.
Ben Thwaites, who was caught up in the Edgware Road blast, said it was as long as an hour before medics got to those trapped in the train. He said the train's driver told him its first aid box was empty, while the first paramedics at the site had to wait for their kit to arrive. The failings identified by the report included:
* As a result of the communication breakdown, some emergency services personnel at the blast sites could not communicate with each other, or in some cases even with their control rooms n There was no systematic establishment of survivor reception areas, so many were left to fend for themselves or had their details lost by the authorities
* The casualty bureau was set up "too slowly" and this had caused great distress to many people who were trying to track down friends and relatives n London Ambulance Service was not equipped to deliver sufficient equipment and medical supplies to the multiple scenes
* There had been a "general failure" to maintain records of the emergency services' response to the bombings
* The authorities ought to have known the mobile phone network would become congested in the aftermath of such an incident, yet the emergency services still relied on mobile phones to communicate between their senior staff
* One elite group of responders were not exempt from traffic regulations, such as bus lanes or the congestion charge
Peter Bradley, chief executive of the London Ambulance Service, said: "We have acknowledged we faced difficulties with communications that day, but this did not prevent us treating and transporting more than 400 patients to hospital from all the sites within three hours."..SUPL: