All the heads of London's blue light services have pledged to maintain their usual response times despite the "extraordinary challenges" that will face them in the capital this summer. 

An unprecedented number of parallel events are occuring with the focus on the Olympic  Games, Queen's Jubilee and Caribbean independence celebrations but emergency service leaders told the London Assembly yesterday [Feb 8]that "everything is planned down to the last minute".

Assistant Commissioner and ACPO Olympics lead Chris Allison told the Health and Public Services Committee that police preparations for the Games were like "a rising tide" and that the Force planned to learn from every event possible, including the Jubilee, to ensure a good balance between public enjoyment and safety.

Allison moved to quell suggestions of increased criminal activity at event sites saying that evidence from the recent Montreal Winter Olympics showed that overall crime goes down during the Games but that an ACPO strategy was in place to deal with possible flooding or public disorder in light of last summer's "unprecedented law breaking".

"A range of factors mitigate against this type of incident [rioting] happening again, such as  increased officer numbers and faster deployment protocols as well as our work on understanding new media's influence," Allison said.

"We had always considered public disorder but now we are well tested in how we would handle it, especially in terms of mutual aid etc."

Jason Killens, the London Ambulance Service's deputy director of operations added that "bespoke resources" had been allocated to his Service for the Games from mutual aid, the private sector and 70 extra ambulances that had been contracted for the summer.

"The London Ambulance Service is heavily utilized at all times but with the extra resources we have in place, no ambulances will be taken from any borough and it will remain business as usual for other areas of London not affected by the Games."

The idea of "business as usual" was reinforced by NHS London Director of Public Health Dr Simmon Tanner who said that "expectations on all NHS services remain unchanged".

Committee deputy chair Navin Shah suggested the greatest threat facing the Emergency Services during the Games was understaffing, particularly given the threat of industrial action facing the London Fire Brigade.

Their Director of Operational Resilience, Gary Reason, said he remained confident of the LFB's ability to provide a full service throughout the summer given the range of alternative provisions put in place (click here for details). 

Another potential risk was transport issues but British Transport Police Chief Superintendent David Wildbore explained how the Force would have "specialist staff in place including the deployment of medics and firearms officers for the first time in a generation" (see

Killens added that paramedics would be on pedal bikes and motorbikes in order to reach the scene of medical emergencies in crowded areas faster.

This co-ordinated approach was a key feature noted by Committee chair Victoria Borwick, with Reason concluding that the "one team approach [to planning] has been a real success and one that all Services will hope to replicate in the future."

Watch London Assembly Health and Public Services Chair Victoria Borwick talk about the Emergency Services preparations for the Olympics soon on  

Posted 09/03/2012 by