A LETTER sent to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart has called into question the basis upon which the National Police Air Service (NPAS) intends to scrap the police helicopter based at Pembrey which serves the Dyfed- Powys Police area.
Despite assurances given to Dyfed Powys Police Commissioner Christopher Salmon that the helicopter service had a secure future, NPAS has announced plans to scrap the service from January 1 2016 and replace it with a fixed wing aircraft based at St Athan.
A letter to the MP from Mark Burns-Williamson, chair of NPAS’ strategic board, suggests that NPAS’ grasp of Welsh geography is, at best sketchy.
In the letter, Mr Burns-Williamson extols the virtues of a fixed wing aircraft flying from St Athan. In the course of his glowing endorsement of the plans, Mr Burns-Williamson also suggests that the transit time from St Athan to Haverfordwest is 31 minutes and claims that the transit time from St Athan to Caernarfon is only 21 minutes.
The distance between St Athan and Haverfordwest is 73 miles as the crow flies.
The distance between St Athan and Caernarfon is 126 miles or so as the crow flies.
As Mr Hart points out: “I think they have mistaken Caernarfon for Carmarthen, which is a bit of a concern.”
In Parliament, Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards’ efforts to quiz Secretary of State Stephen Crabb on the issue were thwarted as the Preseli Pembrokeshire MP ducked a question on the NPAS decision to scrap helicopter coverage in Wales’ most rural areas.
The Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP was selected to question Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb on Wednesday. Mr Edwards asked that Mr Crabb meet with him to discuss the police helicopter announcement that will see the £2m state-of-the-art Pembrey base close on January 1 2016. Mr Edwards also requested the secretary of state seeks the involvement of the home secretary as the minister responsible for policing.
Instead of Mr Crabb fronting up to tackle an issue of concern to his own constituents, Wales Office Minister, Alun Cairns MP, responded on behalf of the Westminster government. The response, Jonathan Edwards says, has raised serious questions about what the police commissioner has agreed since the announcing the deal to save Pembrey in November.
Afterwards Mr Edwards said: “It’s quite suspect that the minister was quick to congratulate (Mr Salmon) on saving money, but made absolutely no mention to the reality that we will lose our police helicopter.
“The police commissioner announced just four months ago that he had secured the future of the helicopter and the Pembrey base, but NPAS has now reneged on that deal. That ministers are now spinning this as a good news story leaves me highly suspicious and raises serious questions about what has been agreed in the last few months.”
NPAS do not publish minutes of their strategic board meetings. The MP has therefore submitted a freedom of information request. The requests seeks: “Copies of minutes from the National Police Air Service Strategic Board meetings that took place in December 2014, January 2015 and February 2015. These minutes should, where applicable, include discussion and decision records (including all members who voted) on the proposal to remove Dyfed Powys Police Helicopter and its base in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, from the National Police Air Service plan.”
Llanelli choir in fine voice with £6,677 fundraiser for lifesaving charity
A SUCCESSFUL Llanelli choir has presented the Wales Air Ambulance with a cheque of £6,677 after nominating them for their charity of the year.
Côr Curiad Choir are no strangers to raising funds for charity – since their musical director Alex Esney took over in 1996/97 the ladies have raised over £105,000 for charity. Some of the good causes that have benefitted from the kind fundraising events include Teenage Cancer Trust, Marie Curie, Ty Bryngwyn Hospice, and the breast cancer unit at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli.
The choir, which consists of 46 females and a solitary male – accompanist Craig Oldham and musical director Alex, welcomes people of all ages. The youngest member is in her twenties and the eldest is 91. This includes mothers, daughters and sisters who all sing for Côr Curiad. They even have members who live outside of Wales.
Spokesperson for the choir Pat Hogson, said: “Now that Covid rules have started to relax a little we have been able to return to more outdoor events, but it will be so good to get back to the ‘new’ normal and do what we love most – to sing and entertain people and to start to raise money for charity again.
“We are able to do as much as we do for charity with the wonderful support of our families and friends and a solid group of supporters who come along to all our events.”
The choir’s music has been described by Pat ‘as varied as their age range’, they sing traditional Welsh and English pieces to Bohemian Rhapsody and songs from Disney, Lord of the Rings, Snow Patrol, Abba and Adele.
Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.
The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.
Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.
Last year saw the ladies held their first-ever virtual Christmas concert, which was a huge success in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance.
Katie Macro, Campaigns Manager for the Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Thank you to everyone at Côr Curiad Choir who despite the challenges that Covid presented to them, they found ways to raise funds for our lifesaving charity. Your support is much appreciated, and every donation is vital and goes towards keeping our helicopters in the air – for the people of Wales, when they need us most. Thank you to the choir’s supporter, friends and family who continue to support and enjoy their charity events.”
There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance.
These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com.
Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.
Four UK forces are piloting a new service to report sexual assault online
THE NEW online Rape and Sexual Assault reporting service is now live on the websites of British Transport Police, Merseyside Police, Dyfed Powys Police and Leicestershire Police.
It was created by the National Police Chief’s Council’s (NPCC) Digital Public Contact Programme (DPC) and launched on Tuesday 30 November.
The pilot will run for six weeks.
People wishing to report sexual offences have until now been directed to phone police forces, text 61016 in the case of British Transport Police, or dial 999 in an emergency.
If they do not require immediate police assistance, people – regardless of age or if they want to report the crime – will be directed online via their local force website.
They will find advice and details of charities and other organisations that can help. The forces will ask, if the person is willing, for details of what has happened. There is an option to report the offence anonymously. If reported anonymously, the police will only contact that person if there is believed to be an immediate threat to their life.
Det Ch Insp Sarah White from British Transport Police said: “We know from extensive research that there are a number of reasons why survivors and witnesses are not comfortable in reporting sexual offences to the police.
“One of the common factors remains the unwillingness to provide personal details. We understand this and have been working to look at how we can invite greater reporting, which can help us prevent further crimes and bring offenders to justice.
“Every report provides us with valuable information. And if people aren’t comfortable with making that report, then we want them to know how they can get the support and help they need.
“This new service in not only innovative in the way it has been designed – from the ground up in consultation with more than 40 organisations (including Rape Crisis, End Violence Against Women and the Survivors Trust) – but also in the way it is being deployed – online where people, especially younger people, increasingly are.”
When visiting the websites of those forces, options are available to report a sexual offence themselves, on behalf on another person, or as a witness. People can choose to report in English or Welsh.
If the pilot is successful, it will become a permanent reporting feature and will be available for other forces to adopt nationally.
Det Ch Insp White added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring our railways are a safe place for people to travel and we hope this is just another tool in our armoury against sexual offending.”
British Transport Police has also been accredited by White Ribbon, committed to ending violence against woman and girls. It recently signed a pledge encouraging all men within the organisation to make a promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “As a White Ribbon accredited organisation, committed to ending violence against woman and girls, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Dyfed-Powys Police and we know how traumatic being the victim of a sexual offence is.
“We encourage victims to come forward to report incidents of this nature so we can thoroughly investigate the crimes whilst ensuring that all victims have the opportunity to be referred for specialist support. The ability to report a sexual offence online will provide another avenue for victims to come forward so we can help them and bring offenders to justice.”
New videos launched to support care for children and young patients
PARENTS, carers of children and young people are being reminded that they can still access 24/7 minor injury care for children at Withybush General Hospital, or during daytime hours at Tenby Walk-in Centre and Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.
Hywel Dda University Health Board has created a series of new information videos explaining the types of care that we are currently able to provide for children and younger patients following the temporary move of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush.
Minor injury units can treat adults and children over 12-months of age, with minor injuries such as the following:
Minor burns or scalds
Minor limb, head, or face injuries
Foreign bodies in the nose or ear
Minor injury units are run by an experienced team of highly skilled specially-trained emergency nurse practitioners, triage nurses and health care support workers. Some are located on main hospital sites, which have emergency departments as well, and others are in community-based health care centres.
Bethan Thomas, an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the Minor Injuries Unit at Withybush General Hospital, said: “Part of my role frequently involves treating children and young people with minor injuries, and we can do this quite quickly in the emergency department at Withybush so that those patients can return home having been seen and given care.”
Children with serious illnesses or injuries will be seen at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen or Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. In an emergency, please dial 999.
In the videos, which are available to view on the Health Board’s website, and on social media, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Didi Ratnasinghe also explains what parents need to be aware of and how to access care if their child has a respiratory illness, while fellow Paediatrician Dr Prem Kumar gives an insight into what to expect if your child needs to stay in hospital for treatment.
Emergency medicine Consultant Dr Nicola Drake provides an explanation of other childhood medical emergencies, and when parents need to call 999 for an ambulance to take a child to Glangwili or Bronglais.
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