England ambulance crews treat 35 found in shipping container

The crews were praised by an ambulance chief officer for a quick and efficient response to the human trafficking case

ESSEX, England — EMS providers treated 35 people found in a shipping container at the Tilbury Docks around 6:37 a.m. Saturday.

The victims included one man who was declared dead, 14 children, and adults who were suffering from severe dehydration and hypothermia, according to a press release from East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Daniel Gore, a duty assistant chief ambulance officer at the scene, praised the providers.

“The first crew on scene did a fantastic job in recognizing the scale of this incident which meant we were able to get resources there very quickly and start delivering care to those involved,” he said. “Our initial priority was to assess the level and nature of any injuries, and ensure that those people in most need were treated first and taken to hospital.”

Workers at the Tilbury Docks discovered the victims after “screaming and banging was heard from inside the container,” FOX News reports. 

The container they arrived in was on a ship owned by P&0 Ferries that was coming from the Belgian port city of Zeebrugge after a nearly nine-hour trip. There were 50 containers on the ship. A P&O spokeswoman said P&O doesn’t inspect the containers and that it’s the responsiblilty of the UK Border Agency. The remaining containers will all be searched.

EMS crews quickly declared a major incident and sent seven ambulances, two rapid response cars, a patient transport services vehicle, two duty operational managers, two BASICS doctors and its hazardous area response team (HART) to the scene to help deliver care to those in need.

All patients were transported to area hospitals for further care.

Gore thanked everyone involved in the response, from the EMS crews, to the dispatchers and other agencies.

“Thanks to some excellent joint working between ourselves, our emergency services colleagues, the UK Border Agency and Tilbury Dock staff we were able to respond to this incident quickly and efficiently and provide an excellent level of care to the 34 patients,” Gore said. “We do extensive planning and preparation for major incidents like this one, which means when they do happen we are able to provide the best possible response.”

British authorities blasted the “criminal networks” engaged in human trafficking.

“Today’s tragic incident at Tilbury is a reminder of the often devastating human consequences of illegal migration,” Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said in a statement. “This incident is now a criminal investigation. Border Force officers are fully engaged with Essex police and the Tilbury port authorities as the necessary steps are taken towards bringing those responsible to justice.”

A homicide investigation is under way.

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