United Kingdom

Rules preventing emergency crews from responding quickly to terror attacks 'puts lives at risk' 

Strict rules on how the emergency services respond to terror attacks could be putting lives in danger, a police chief has warned.

Official regulations mean ambulance and fire crews must wait 550 yards from the scene of any terrorist incident until police decide it is safe for them to help victims.

The nationwide protocol, known as Operation Plato, is intended to protect paramedics from gunmen or knifemen, but there are fears it increases the number of victims who die because they are left waiting for medical treatment.

Dave Thompson, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, claimed the death toll from last month’s knife rampage in Birmingham may have been higher if it had been declared a terrorist incident. Eight people were attacked, of whom one died, during the late-night carnage.

Dave Thompson, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, claimed the death toll from last month’s knife rampage in Birmingham may have been higher if it had been declared a terrorist incident

In a document distributed internally within the force on October 10, Mr Thompson wrote: ‘West Midlands Police deliberately did not declare the incident as Operation Plato.

‘This allowed ambulances to attend the scene quickly and provide urgent medical aid.

‘Had Operation Plato been declared, it is possible that medical aid may have been delayed and there may have been further loss of life.’

Mr Thompson added that ‘the issues raised have been elevated to a national level for wider consultation’.

Zephaniah McLeod, 27, has been charged with murder and seven counts of attempted murder in connection with the attacks in Birmingham on September 6.

Zephaniah McLeod, 27, has been charged with murder and seven counts of attempted murder in connection with the attacks in Birmingham on September 6

Operation Plato was called into question after the Manchester Arena bombings and the London Bridge attacks in 2017.

Following the Manchester atrocity, when 22 concert-goers were killed and 112 were seriously injured, paramedics were able to treat the injured because they were unaware that the incident was a terrorist atrocity. 

Had they known, they would have had to comply with Operation Plato rules.

An inquest into the London Bridge attacks, which left eight people dead and 48 injured, heard paramedics took ‘too long’ to attend to victims because they were stopped by police.

The atrocity was declared a terrorist incident almost immediately.

Last night, a spokesman for Counter- Terrorism Policing said they were ‘constantly working with our emergency service partners to learn from any recent major incidents and ensure that our guidance provides the best possible protection of the public’.

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