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Fire chief warns of further cuts to service

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THE MID AND WEST WALES FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE has revealed the extent of budget cuts, whilst speaking at Ceredigion’s full council meeting last Thursday (Mar 21).

At the meeting last Thursday, Fire Service Chief Officer Chris Davies told councillors that in a time of austerity, the service has had to make significant cuts.

He said: “We’ve stripped out 20% of our budget… 27% of firefighters posts removed and 34% of middle to senior management posts have been removed over the last six to eight years.
“We are at the point now where anymore cuts to us will mean a reduction in service delivery.
“It means that someone, somewhere, will receive emergency response more slowly than they currently do.”

Mr Davies added: “We’ve made significant cuts as I know you have as a council.
“We are at the point now where there are only three things that we can cut… personnel, appliances and equipment.”

The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service serves Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Swansea, Powys and Neath Port Talbot. The Service covers some 4,500 square miles and makes-up almost two-thirds of the landmass of Wales, with nearly 12,000 square kilometres of road networks and 650 kilometres of coastline. Census data suggests that the permanent population of the service area is 900,000, but the fire service say that it can be proven that during the summer, the population exceeds two million.

Statutory duties of the service are fire safety, firefighting, road traffic collisions and emergencies. Other operational challenges include building fires, grass fires, flooding, urban search and rescue as well as terrorism response. Grass fires in particular were a major problem last year, and in the period between April and June, the Mid and West Wales fire control received over 27,000 calls regarding that issue. The co-responder scheme, which utilises specialist vehicles to assist the Welsh Ambulance Service in the case of medical emergencies, has been considered a success. Mr Davies described ROSC (Return of Spontaneous Circulation) as meaning ‘someone has been brought back to life’, and 54 such instances have been confirmed across the service area.

Mr Davies added: “That means that 54 people are walking around today who wouldn’t have been, if they [co-responder vehicles] weren’t in place.”
A wide variety of risks are found within the operational area, ranging from the petro-chemical industries in Milford Haven and Briton Ferry to the risks associated with heavily populated areas such as Swansea, Port Talbot and Llanelli. There is an extensive farming community and many other light industries throughout the area. These, together with an extensive coastline and inland waterways are some of the specialised risks within the Mid and West Wales region.

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New Quay RNLI lifeboat crew trains with lifeguards

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NEW QUAY lifeboat station hosted a special training evening with the lifeboat crew and Ceredigion’s RNLI lifeguards last week.

Pete Yates, one of New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat helms, worked closely with Ceredigion lifeguard supervisor, Tirion Dowsett, to plan scenarios for the teams to practice working together in casualty care situations.

A large scale scenario included four casualties to be dealt with by the inshore lifeboat crew and two lifeguard teams on a nearby beach, whilst a third lifeguard team and lifeboat crew members dealt with a separate scenario at the lifeboat station.

Pete said: “It was a great evening of training. We had 9 lifeguards and 13 lifeboat crew in attendance.

“The main scenario included casualties suffering from hypothermia and propeller injuries. A second scenario involved a mechanic suffering head injuries in the forepeak of the all-weather lifeboat and requiring extraction on a stretcher.

“On completion of these scenarios we all gathered back at the station where one of our senior crew members sprung a great act at being a diabetic having a hypo, and being suitably angry and aggressive.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, added: “It was great for our lifeboat crew members to work with the lifeguards as it builds a deeper understanding of each other’s roles and encourages teamwork between us. This is of great benefit when dealing with real life casualty care situations.”

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Coastguard rescues dog stuck on cliffs

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LAST TUESDAY (Aug 27), New Quay RNLI’s inshore D-class lifeboat, Audrey LJ, was tasked by Milford Haven Coastguard to assist the Coastguard with a dog stuck on the cliffs near New Quay.

The volunteer crew launched the inshore lifeboat at 1.50pm with four crew members on board and made their way south down the coast.

Brett Stones, New Quay RNLI’s helm said: “We located the dog on the cliffs by Castell Bach, near Cwmtydu. We stood by while the Coastguard team caught the animal. The dog was unharmed and safe with the Coastguard so we were stood down.

“However, while returning to station we were then tasked to a small vessel with engine failure. We towed the stricken boat with three people on board back to New Quay. We rehoused the inshore lifeboat and it was ready for service by 2.40pm.”

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New maintenance Lorries cut carbon emissions

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The Ground Maintenance Team has purchased three new lorries to support ground maintenance services in Ceredigion.

The new lorries will move Ceredigion County Council’s Ground Maintenance Service’s equipment to and from the grounds that they look after. The lorries will also take cut grass away for composting. This provides the most efficient way of maintaining the areas that the team is responsible for.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “The new vehicles replace ones which had provided excellent service for almost 20 years. They are fitted with Euro 6 engines which are considerably more efficient and better for the environment.”

The Grounds Maintenance Team is also incrementally introducing electric-powered mowers, blowers, hedge cutters and strimmers into its fleet. This equipment is better for the environment, is easier to use and causes less noise and vibration.

The new lorries support Ceredigion County Council’s commitment to be a net-zero carbon council by 2030.

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