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huffingtonpost - 20 days ago

12-Year-Old Girl Trapped In Burning Grenfell Tower Urged 999 Operator Please Hurry Up

A 12-year-old girl trapped in Grenfell Tower as the blaze spread was told firefighters were on their way to her as she asked a 999 operator: Please can you hurry up? Jessica Urbano Ramirez was one of the 72 people who died as a result of the disaster on June 14 last year.She fled her flat on the 20th floor before taking refuge along with others higher up the 24-storey tower block in west London.Complaining of smoke and fire below, Ramirez repeatedly pleased for rescuers to get to her quicker.Details of her 999 call to London Fire Brigade control room officer Sarah Russell, which lasted almost an hour, were revealed in a 70-page transcript at a public inquiry in central London on Monday.At one point, Russell, who had been in the job for about nine months by the time of the fire, said: They are hurrying up. Is there another room you can go into? Jessica replied: No, can you hurry up please? I m begging you. Russell told her: They are, they re right below you. But you need to keep yourself safe. Giving evidence, the officer admitted she had no information that firefighters were on their way, but said she was trying to reassure the youngster.Counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC asked her if she realised she was lulling her into a false sense of security? Russell replied: At the time, no. It was based on what I would expect to happen, what should happen. It was more about comforting her and trying to get her through that situation and get the information (from her). Russell said she would have liked to have had more experience in dealing with fire survival guidance (FSG) calls prior to the fire, having had just one day of FSG training eight or nine months earlier.She also said it would have been helpful to have a more experienced control room officer sitting next to her.In a written statement Russell said she was glad she had stayed on the call even if it was only to offer her a little support . After about an hour I could not get anymore response from her - only rasping sounds, then nothing, she said. I was torn as what best to do. I eventually ended the call when the line fell silent Sarah Russell, 999 operatorWhen the live fell silent she terminated the call. Reflecting on that call, I felt completely helpless, she said. When people are pleading with you, saying do not want to die and I cannot physically do anything to help it is very hard. The information that Jessica had fled to a higher floor was not passed on to fire crews on the ground, who searched her flat but found no trace of the youngster.Russell said that, not long after the call ended, she became aware the advice to callers had been changed from stay-put to attempt to evacuate.But a transcript of another call showed she was still offering a choice following the change of advice, the inquiry heard. I was making them aware that they needed to leave and how, but if you send them out into the fire and smoke it could potentially be sending them out to a death where if they waited they may have been rescued, Russell said.Related... Fire Chief Defends Grenfell Operation Grenfell Blaze Was Like ‘Armageddon’, Firefighters Say

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