HC Deb 19 November 1940 vol 365 cc1823-4
43. Miss Rathbone

asked the Home Secretary whether he is satisfied that the personnel of the men engaged in the work of rescuing persons trapped in the wreckage of bombed buildings is as skilled as is practicable; whether those who direct them receive any special training for the work; whether a fuller supply of engineering tackle, cranes, etc., could be secured; and, whether, in view of the difficulty of ascertaining the whereabouts of survivors in large wrecked buildings, he will consider issuing a recommendation that people living in dangerous areas should carry strong whistles attached to their persons to be used only if trapped and would arrange for a large supply of such whistles upon the market?

Mr. Mabane

Rescue parties have undergone a careful and regular course of training and exercise, both in their depots and at specially constituted training schools. Special training has been undertaken by rescue party leaders in London and throughout the provinces. Further, my right hon. Friend is taking steps to secure that the lessons learnt from actual raiding experience should be made readily and generally available. The equipment provided for rescue parties contains a wide range of tackle. It has been reviewed by engineers with experience of rescue work and they did not recommend the addition of heavier tackle Dr cranes to the standard equipment. Local authorities have, however, been advised to keep a record of heavy gear in the district which might be used for special occasions. With regard to the last part of the Question, this suggestion has had careful consideration but it is considered to be dangerous to take any action which might lead to rescue parties relying on the sound of a whistle to indicate that there were people trapped under debris.

Miss Rathbone

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that these tragedies are causing very considerable concern, and that there are cases of people who have lost their lives, owing to their being rescued too late, who could probably have been saved if their location could have been established; and will he issue a statement through the British Broadcasting Corporation telling people of the precautions they should take, such as having a small store of emergency rations and so on?