Defiant Doc Thumbs Nose At Bombers

Londoners displayed defiance and determination Friday, vowing to get on with their lives despite Thursdays bombings.

Dr. Stewart Brage, of the British Medical Association, The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith he heard the explosion that tore apart a double-decker bus.

"The blast was right outside my office," Brage says, "and we thought, 'Christ, that's a bomb.' …Within a few moments, we saw people milling around, and we saw the wrecked mangle of the bus, bodies strewn over the bus. We tried to get people repaired.

"We turned our office with its courtyard and its carport into a field casualty station. A M.A.S.H., if you will. We spent three to four hours working with ambulance crews that came on the scene as time went on. …We were just doctors (who were) about to have a meeting.

"I guarantee that we saved lives by our actions."

Brage says it's "bizarre seeing the calm around us (Friday). But I guess we did what we did because we do what we do, and you just get on with it. That's what the ambulance crews do, it's what the police do, it's what any human being would do. You have a natural instinct to help. We've got skills. We used them. Today is just another day back in Londontown."

Asked whether the doctors in his building just happened to be in the right place at the right time, Brage said he saw things differently: "The bombers blew (the bus) up in the wrong place. They should have thought, 'We're not gonna stick a bus outside the BMA building and blow it up there, 'cuz they'd have had more injuries if they'd have done it somewhere else. So we showed them, didn't we?"

Michael Henning was in one of the subway trains that was bombed. He tells Smith he changed cars moments before the device went off, and that saved his life, since the car he left is the one that took a direct hit.

"It was a very surreal experience," Henning recalls. "One minute, you're thinking about your day, the next minute, I saw orange light, shards of silver, which I think was glass, and just being twisted and thrown down to the ground. And you just felt, it's over. Reality left you.

"Initially, it was just dark and there was just an eerie silence. And then we had a little bit of light and panic set in. And there was lots of screaming. A few of us told our carriage (car) to calm down. Then we could just hear screaming from the carriage that got hit the worst."

It took 25 minutes for Henning to make it above ground again.

"I'm a very lucky man," he marveled, noting his only injuries were multiple cuts to his face from the flying glass, and some abrasions on his eye."

How is he, emotionally?

"Talking about it is good," Henning says. "Sitting and thinking about it, seeing it on the news brings it all back. I can just see those people in that carriage.

"We've been through (this before in London). Maybe not so many casualties, but we've been through similar, and the reaction's always the same. We just get on with it. And that's what we will do."

Paramedic David Whitmore, who rushed to one of the blast scenes, told Smith the bombings were reminiscent of the I.R.A campaigns of the 1980s and '90s.

He echoed Henning's sentiments: "The ambulance service, we're here to provide a service to London, to our visitors, to anyone who comes from anywhere. We will provide that service. Come what may, we will do it. That's my job. I will do it till the day I die."
  • Brian Dakss

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