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.
New Quay RNLI in top ten for fundraising in the UK & Ireland
Last week, as the RNLI’s Mayday Mile campaign came to an end, the New Quay RNLI team had earned the honour of being in the top ten for fundraising throughout the UK & Ireland. The team raised over £3,000 during the month of May, with local schools, individuals and the RNLI crew taking part.
Both Ysgol Ceinewydd and Ysgol T Llew Jones pupils took on the challenge, taking to the school field to complete their Mayday Mile and then learning about water safety back in the classroom.
Mr Lee Burrows, Deputy Headteacher of Ysgol T Llew Jones, said, “We wanted to take part in the RNLI Mayday Mile campaign as we wanted to raise awareness of the dangers in and around the water before the summer months. It’s really important for our pupils to remember water safety messages as we live by the sea.
“We were able to use the RNLI water safety resources which are online and the children had great fun making water safety posters.”
A local boy, Steffan Williams, aged 12, was another participant who raised over £2,200 by paddle boarding 10 miles in one day and is fourth on the individuals’ leaderboard for the whole of the UK and Ireland.
New Quay lifeboat crew also took part, with crew members running and walking across Traeth Gwyn in full RNLI kit. It was tough going but they covered a total of 20 miles. Crew member Peter Yates took the challenge one step further, walking a total of 68 miles during the month of May.
Pete said, “Having been on the crew for 14 years and having been taught so much and been given such great opportunities, I wanted to do my bit and give something back. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me and the rest of the team.”
Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Operations Manager added, “We would like to thank everyone for their kind donations and also those who have taken part in the fundraising activities. The Mayday Mile campaign has been a great success and it’s great to see the community pulling together to raise much needed funds for the RNLI. With more people expected to be holidaying close to home this year, the RNLI predicts a summer like no other.”
New Quay RNLI rescues three persons blown out to sea
ON THURSDAY afternoon (Jun 10) at 3pm New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched on service to rescue three persons being blown out to sea on inflatable rings off Traeth Gwyn beach.
In a strong offshore wind, the crew at New Quay Lifeboat Station had spotted three persons on inflatable rings in difficulty.
Pete Yates, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “We spotted the group about a quarter mile out from the beach so we observed them for a while. Initially they abandoned one of the rings and were making good speed back to the beach. All seemed okay, but then the group of three, each in a rubber ring started to slow, with one adult beginning to attempt a swim tow with the other two.
“At that point I could tell they were in real danger so I went to prepare the inshore lifeboat. Once kitted up we launched and quickly arrived on scene. One person had made it ashore but the adult was still towing a young person who was quite shivery and cold. We got them both aboard and took them back to the beach to their family. I’d say they were a little shaken up and it was a very good decision to observe them and then launch, so a good outcome!”
Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager added, “Many of the emergencies the RNLI responds to involve inflatables and that is a key reason why the RNLI strongly advises against taking them to the beach. Inflatables are not designed for open water and it takes very little breeze for them to be swept out to sea much quicker than you can swim or paddle back to the beach.
“Remember if you get into danger in the water, relax and float to give yourself time to recover before swimming to safety or calling for help. If you see someone else in danger, please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Surprise interview with football superstar on Euros’ eve
ON Thursday morning 10 June, pupils from Ysgol Gynradd Penrhyn-coch and Ysgol Gyfun Penweddig received an unexpected Zoom call all the way from Baku, capital city of Azerbaijan. The call was made from Ben Davies, Welsh professional footballer, who is currently located at a camp with the rest of the Welsh national football team in Baku, ahead of their Euro 2020 opener game against Switzerland on Saturday.
After the initial shock of seeing the live image of Ben appear on the screen in front of them, Pupils from Year 3 to Year 6 of Ysgol Penrhyn-coch and Year 7 puplis of Ysgol Penweddig were given the opportunity to interview Ben. The interview, which was organised as part of the Ceredigion Welsh Language Charter, was conducted through the medium of Welsh.
It was clear from the big grins that all the pupils enjoyed this special experience considerably and one that will be well remembered. The passion from the children was an indicator of the strong support there is for Ben and the rest of the Welsh team in Ceredigion.
None of the pupils knew about the interview beforehand. The only clue given by the schools that something was happening was that pupils were all told to wear red to school on Thursday.
Liwsi Curley, a pupil of Ysgol Penrhyn-coch said: “I’m in shock to see one of my heroes live on zoom! It’s been a special experience and one of the happiest experiences of my life. Thank you very much Ben Davies. Go for it Wales!”
Ben answered many of the puplis questions. Twm Aron Williams and Caio Brychan, puplis of Ysgol Penrhyncoch, who are big fans of Ben were two of those lucky pupils. Caio asked Ben: “If you could choose a five-a-side football fantasy team who would be in it?” After answering, Ben asked the same question back to Caio, who answered immediately with: “You and then Bale, Ramsey, Moore and Henesey!”
Dr Rhodri Thomas, Headteacher of Ysgol Penweddig said: It was pleasing to see the response of year 7 pupils to the session with Ben Davies today. The pupils appreciated the opportunity to find out more about the experience of representing your country and the importance of practising, hard work and following advice from others in order to succeed. Year 7 pupils are excited now and look forward to supporting Wales in the competition over the next few weeks. Good luck to the team in Rome and Baku!”
Finley Saycell, a Year 7 pupil of Ysgol Penweddig said: “Today’s experience was a special one. I thank everyone who had given us the opportunity. It was excellent. I spoke to Ben Davies – one of Wales’s best players!”
Ben Davies has won over 50 caps for Wales and previously played in the Euros in 2016. Welsh-born Ben attended Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, Neath Port Talbot.
Following the interview, Ben Davies said: “It was lovely to speak to the children and see the support that there is for us – WOW!”
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