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Questions remain after helicopter briefing

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Concerns: Nia Griffith MP

Concerns: Nia Griffith MP

MP s whose constituencies are set to be affected by changes to police helicopter provision attended a briefing on Friday (Jul 10).

Those in attendance at Police Headquarters included Nia Griffith and Jonathan Edwards, who have both publicly voiced their opposition to the NPAS 15 base model which will come into use early next year. Conservatives Simon Hart and Chris Davies (Brecon and Radnorshire) were also in attendance, as were the leaders of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion Councils. Stephen Crabb MP had pre-arranged meetings in his constituency, but has apparently requested a one-to-one meeting with the Chief Constable to discuss the matter.

The briefing included statistics which repeated the NPAS claim that 85% of priority one cases should be reached within 20 minutes. However, the times given in the briefing show that Milford Haven and Aberywstwyth, two of the main population centres in west Wales, will take more than half an hour to reach from St Athan.

The benefits of fixed wing aircraft were also mentioned, though their inability to land and hover was brought up – which is significant bearing in mind that according to the force’s data, 11 casualties have been evacuated from the Dyfed Powys area by X99 this year alone.

Nia Griffith agreed that questions were raised by this briefing: “I am grateful to the Chief Constable and the Police Commissioner for arranging the helicopter briefing, but I am very concerned at what I heard. We, the police tax payers of Dyfed Powys, will be paying into a National Police Air Service, but without the Pembrey helicopter, it looks like we could get a very raw deal. With the few remaining helicopter bases (down from 34 to 22 then to 15) situated near the big centres of population, our nearest being St Athan, this inevitably means longer response times for us here in West Wales. The response time for our area is up from 4 minutes to 18 minutes, and for Milford Haven up from 12 minutes to 32 minutes and the time left actually to spend on the task in either area is halved from two hours to one hour. And what if there are competing demands for police helicopter time, who knows what response we would get? We have also been given to understand that use will also be made of ‘fixed wing aircraft’ (tiny aeroplanes to you and me… They look like something you would expect Amelia Earhart to jump out of ) although NPAS’ own study in 2012 concluded these would not be anything like as good as helicopters on mountainous terrain or coastal cliffs, of which we have a great deal in Dyfed Powys. It is not even clear how much Dyfed Powys Police is going to be charged for its use of the service. If we are paying into this ‘National’ service (and we have no choice), then we should be getting the same access and response times as other areas of the UK, and a 24 hour base at Pembrey would achieve that. We should not accept second best, and I shall continue to pursue ministers on this matter.”

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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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