7/7 10th anniversary: Hornchurch firefighter remembers ‘carnage’ at Tavistock Square
- Credit: Archant
The devastation which greeted Steve McDermott as he arrived at Tavistock Square could hardly have been imagined.
The firefighter, who knew there had been an explosion caused by a suspected suicide bomber, took in the wreckage of the double decker bus, bloodied bodies strewn inside and on the street.
And, like so many others on that day, he worked tirelessly and desperately to save lives.
The 38-year-old, of Hornchurch, worked at Holloway fire station in Islington at the time.
He said: “We were coming back from another call when we got called up on the radio at about 10 to 10 to go to a suspected explosion in Tavistock Square.
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“At the time, we knew something was going on at Aldgate, but we didn’t know about King’s Cross or Edgware Road.”
When Steve and his crew arrived at the square, they were stunned by the scene before them.
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“There was carnage everywhere”, said Steve. “We hadn’t known it was on a bus, but we then saw the bus with its roof missing.”
The firefighters immediately rushed to the aid of the victims, with the help of doctors from the British Medical Association.
The explosion had happened just yards from the association’s headquarters, where a medical conference was being held.
Steve said: “There was a man trapped on the bus, from Australia I think. He had a really bad shoulder injury.
“We had to get him off the bus; we had to remove some debris which was on him.
“About a week later I heard he had died, which wasn’t very nice to find out. We thought because we got him out he would be okay.”
Steve, who had attended with nine colleagues from Holloway and a crew from Soho, reassured members of the public who were in shock and helped paramedics treat those who were injured in the courtyard.
Steve said: “One lady died in an ambulance when we were treating her. She just went like that.
“We had to move on and help someone else.
“We were there for two to three hours and did the best we could.”
The events of the day only sunk in when Steve returned home.
He said: “At the time we got on with our job, we had a job to do as professionals.
“But when you see someone die in front of you, like the lady in the ambulance, you think they may have had children and a husband at home. That shows how life can be precious and can be taken from you just like that.
“Especially now I have my three children; they are the most important thing in my life.”