Interview: Memories of the London 7/7 bombing



Gill Hicks lost both legs below the
knees in the London attacks

Interview: Memories of the bombing

Australian Gill Hicks survived the London bomb attacks which killed 52 people and injured 700. In 7/7: The Day The Bombs Came she recounts her terrifying experience and explains why her life has changed forever.

You were on your way to work, then what happened? Tell me about your journey? Did you get a seat?

No, didn't get a seat, shoved on like everybody else, once again, complete automatic pilot and you know, doors closed and it felt probably like it was a minute, if not less into the journey, and then like that, everything changed.

It's a really strange thing to describe, but the best way I can describe it is t

hat suddenly it feels like I was falling in black thick liquid or tar.

And my immediat
e sensation or thought, was that I was having a heart attack and that I was dying in the tube.

And I could hear some muffled screams as I was sort of falling down, and I thought people were screaming at me, or for somebody to pull the emergency stop because I was having a heart attack and it wasn't until I was sort of somehow lowered onto the ground that I realised I couldn't breathe and I sort of opened my eyes and this blackness that I thought was my own blackness was actually everywhere.

I couldn't breathe, and there was, there were just screams, and it was the whole, the whole environment was changed, it was like being transported almost in a parallel world, you know, that you've gone from a bright sunny day to suddenly, you know, the bowels of the earth have opened up and you're somewhere completely different.

I think that's what's odd, I never, I don't
ember ever thinking, "oh, why has this happened?", you know, "oh, it might be a bomb," you just don't think about that at

It was just black, can't breathe, people screaming, what do I do? Almost in that sequence. And I called for someone to pick me up, I remember just putting my arms up like this, and I said I can't feel my legs and I couldn't breathe and I needed to, I just, you just feel like you just need to be off the ground, so just "get me up because I can't breathe."

And I don't know who pulled me up, how it happened, but somehow I found myself on a bench seat, and it was then that there was a sort of an eerie quality almost to the environment as well, because the, the screaming that was there initially just suddenly wasn't there as much.

Although there were people screaming there was an emergency light and it was from that emergency light that I was able to see what had happened and the extent of my injuries
and I l
ooked down and it was quite strange actually, because I felt, I felt very removed from myself, but very aware that I was in quite serious trouble, because my legs did look like
a picture of an anatomy drawing of what the inside of your leg looks like, and my feet were both almost surgically severed, but still connected to what remained of the lower part of my legs.

But rather than feeling completely panicked by that, I just felt that I would die from the blood loss if I didn't act and do something.

So strangely I felt calm, but I'm using calm for lack of a better word, I guess once again, it's almost like a sense of automatic pilot but from a different perspective from being a commuter.

It was, it, apart from this being a normal day, it was sort of once again abnormal in the sense that I was wearing a scarf and I don't normally wear scarves, and I'm certainly counting my blessings that I had a scarf on that morning, and so I took my scarf off and it was
a sort of ch
iffony material, which is quite hard to tear actually.

So I was sort of sitting there on this bench seat, and of course all this feels like it's happening in a very long period of time, but it
must sort of be minutes that you're reacting in this way, and I ripped my scarf in half and applied almost, well, tied them as tourniquets around both legs to try and make some attempt at stopping the amount of blood that I was losing.

And I remember also feeling that I needed to be calm and slow everything down because if, because I was listening to people screaming around me and one woman was very clear in saying that she was dying, someone needs to help her, and these screams were quite loud and I just thought, "I can't panic, I can't join in that scream because then my heart will be pumping out too much blood." So somehow I needed to divorce myself from what was going on and try and be as calm as possible.

I lifted both legs and put them over the arm
rest of the benc
h seat in an attempt to elevate them, and that sort of left me in a very strange position, that I was holding onto this mangled, buckled window frame.

And yeah, it's a mixture of things I guess, it's a, it's a grave,
it's a kind of limbo space between those who are about to die and those who aren't, and it becomes more than just a tube carriage suddenly, and I was sort of left with this sort of mixed dialogue of a conversation or not. I guess conversation's too soft a word, there was a, it was a dialogue, of something saying to me, you know, or me saying to me, "Close your eyes and go to sleep, you know, that's the best option.

'Why don't we just do that and you know, you're very tired now, aren't you?'

And then the other half was saying, "don't close your eyes, don't go to sleep, don't listen to that because if you do that, that will mean that you're dead. So don't be fooled by this word
sleep, you will die.

And then it would flip back, "no, come on," and I guess that was partly due to how much blood I was losing but there was an instinct that said to me, if I do close my eyes, even if I'm just unconscious, if I miss that person with a torch, I will be left down there because they need
to see me raise a hand or raise an arm and say, "I'm here," for me to be saved.

And even though I'm saying that, that I guess the main panic that I did feel was, "Does anyone actually even know we're down here? If the driver is dead, did we have a crash? I don't know what happened. I don't know how long we're going to be here. I don't know how long I can hold on."

So I just started looking at my watch and it's the exact watch I wear today, and I just firmly gripped on to this, what remained of a window and quite, sort of quickly tried to resolve this dialogue.

And I made a decision because it was driving
me mad actually, going,
"Go to sleep, don't go to sleep," so I looked around the carriage and I made a very, very firm decision, which was, "this is not where I die. This is not the end for me, this is not how I die."

And the moment I made that decision, the dialogue stopped and it became easier for me to keep my eyes open and I just fixed it on my watch face and waited and I do
n't know how long I waited really. But then I did see the torch, and I did see someone coming toward me, and all I remember was what I now think are the two best words in the English language, which are "priority" and "one", and a hand on my shoulder saying "priority one, it's OK," and after that, it's bits and pieces that I can remember.

Because I think I just, was able to let go, knowing that someone knew I was there and priority one just sounded fantastic. That sounds like someone's going to see to you and they're going to see to you very qu
ickly. So I started letting

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