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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Work of water safety initiative praised after busy summer

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The dedicated work of a Tenby team promoting water safety has been hailed following one of the busiest summers on record.

The Tenby Water Safety Initiative is made up of representatives of Pembrokeshire County Council, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and the RNLI.

Throughout the summer the group has been providing water safety advice alongside banners and posters supported by social media messaging, highlighting potential dangers of the waters around Pembrokeshire.

Local shops and businesses supported the messaging by displaying posters and stickers in their premises.

Tenby Harbour has been a particular focus, where Water Safety Group members have engaged with the predominantly young people who have traditionally jumped into the water from the harbour walls.

Those wanting to jump have been informed of the dangers, including the fact that boats often cannot see people swimming as they approach the harbour.

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Harbourmaster Chris Salisbury, said: “I would like to thank all the agencies that provided time and input to the Tenby Water Safety group.

“While we have not stopped the jumping at Tenby Harbour it has proved to be a great opportunity to raise awareness and has provided vital safety information around the dangers of jumping into all waters not just Tenby Harbour.

“The information has been delivered in many different formats across the county to best reach the young people of Pembrokeshire and visitors alike.”

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RNLI Lifeguard Manager Chris Rigby said that so manyaccidents that happen around the coast could be avoided so it was great to be part of the Tenby Water Safety Initiative to try to help reduce the the number of people getting into trouble. 

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Chris added: “The Tenby Water safety initiative has demonstrated that Multi Agency work had succeeded in informing members of the public of the dangers in and around the working Harbour of Tenby. 

“It has allowed us to take a non-authorative approach to engaging with tourists, holiday makers, and locals alike and has provided a platform for us to promote the safe use of waters in and around the harbour whilst enjoying the picturesque scenery and atmosphere.”

Station Manager Jeremy Trew, Youth Intervention Manager with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said the work between partners will continue to deliver water safety education.

This will also aim to reduce the anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with the dangerous use of the harbour area.

Kelly Davies, Senior Practitioner, Pembrokeshire Youth Service and Lead for Tenby Water Safety, commended the efforts of all those involved. 

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“By bringing together experts in the field of water safety and local knowledge we have been able to approach the initiative from an information, factual point of view and have tried to make the message very clear to all who visit Tenby. Enjoy our waters, but do so safely and know the dangers.”

Kelly added: “I would like to thank the Harbourmaster, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue, the RNLI and Leisure services for their continued support and commitment in raising the awareness of the Tenby Water Safety Initiative.’

In any marine emergency, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Lead image: Chris Salisbury (Harbour Master), Jeremy Trew (Station Manager – Fire & Rescue Service) Chris Powles (Targeted Youth Team Manager), Jonathan Williams (Senior Youth Worker). (Image: Pembrokeshire Council)

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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

New Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed

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Roger Thomas, current Deputy Chief Fire Officer, has been confirmed as the new Chief Fire Officer of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Following the announced retirement of Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies in September, Roger Thomas, who was appointed at an extraordinary meeting of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority on 06 December 2021, will take over the role of Chief Fire Officer in April 2022.

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Councillor Elwyn Williams, Chair of Mid and Wales Fire and Rescue Authority said: “I am delighted to announce that our current Deputy Chief Fire Office, Roger Thomas, has successfully been appointed as our new Chief Fire Officer.

“Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies leaves our Service in April 2022 following an illustrious career and I speak on behalf of the Fire and Rescue Authority when I say that we have full confidence that Roger will take the reins and continue to drive the Service forward.

“We know that there are challenging times ahead, but we are confident that under Roger’s management, we will continue to address those challenges and maintain the high standards that our communities and partners have become accustomed to.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roger Thomas said: “I want to extend my sincere thanks for the support and confidence of Members of our Authority in appointing me Chief Fire Officer of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, a position I am immensely proud to be undertaking.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to work with Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies, who during his tenure has shown outstanding commitment to the Service and the communities we serve.”

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Dyfed Powys Police

Eight assaults EVERY DAY on Welsh emergency workers in first six months of 2021

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Eight assaults every day were committed against Welsh emergency workers during the first six months of this year, new figures have revealed.

More than 1,360 assaults were committed in the six-month period from 01 January 2021 – 30 June 2021.

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They included kicking, slapping, head-butting and verbal abuse, and ranged from common assault to serious premediated attacks involving grievous bodily harm.

At least 21 incidents involved a weapon.

With Christmas fast approaching – the time of year when assaults traditionally spike – emergency workers are asking the public to treat them with respect.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a fraught time for all of us, but that’s no excuse to assault an emergency worker, who are normal human beings just trying to do a job.

“The run-up to Christmas means more people are out enjoying the revelry, and with alcohol consumption comes an increase in assaults, both physical and verbal.

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“There were 60 verbal attacks alone on our ambulance control room staff in the first six months of the year.

“We know it’s distressing when you’re waiting for help, but abusing our call handlers is not the answer – if anything, it could potentially delay help.

“On the road meanwhile, crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their safety is compromised, and that’s not helpful for anyone, especially the patient.

“The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us this Christmas.”

Almost half (47%) of assaults in the six-month period took place in South East Wales; Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Bridgend are among the most prolific local authority areas.

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Offenders aged 26-35 account for the highest portion of offending (24%), while a third of incidents involved people under the influence of alcohol.

May 2021 saw the highest volume of assaults (281) as the hospitality industry re-opened in Wales after the second Covid-19 lockdown.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, there have been at least 36 incidents where an emergency worker has been deliberately coughed at.

Assaults on police account for two thirds (67%) of the total number, averaging 152 victims every month in the six-month period.

Claire Parmenter, Temporary Chief Constable at Dyfed Powys Police, said: “Assaults on police officers continue to increase and this is completely unacceptable. 

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“Assault is a traumatic offence that causes great distress to anyone, and it is no different when the victim is an emergency worker.

“In September, we saw a man handed a 26-week prison sentence suspended for two years after he violently attacked two of our police officers who had gone to his aid.

“Concerned for his safety, they gave him a lift home – and in return both were physically injured.

“The psychological impact on both officers is something they will take time to recover from.

“In the same month alone, three officers carrying out their duties suffered injuries in an unprovoked attack at the hands of the man they were trying to arrest.

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“Despite the offender’s efforts, the officers were able to arrest him although they were left with injuries.

“The offender appeared in court the day after his arrest, where he was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

“Assaults such as these stay with the victims for the rest of their careers, and none of my officers and staff should have to go to work serving the public and be afraid of being assaulted.

“With the upcoming season of goodwill, please respect and protect our emergency workers.”

Although fewer in number – 22 incidents over the six-month period – March 2021 saw an unexplained rise in assaults on fire service colleagues, especially in South Wales.

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Chief Fire Officer Huw Jakeway QFSM from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Our emergency services work hard every day keeping the public safe and should not have to deal with abuse.

“Attacks on crews while protecting our communities and keeping people safe is completely unacceptable.

“Our blue light services come to work to serve and protect the public and the impact of such assaults can lead to life-changing consequences for those involved.

“This type of behaviour is, of course, carried out by a very small minority, and we once again thank our communities for their continued support in working with us this festive season to stay safe.”

Under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, the definition of an emergency worker includes police, fire and ambulance staff, as well as prison staff and NHS workers.

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Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales, said: “Our emergency workers provide life-saving and life-changing care every day in often difficult circumstances.

“Our NHS staff are preparing for a challenging Christmas period so now, more than ever, they deserve to be treated with respect.

“Any form of attack on our emergency workers is completely unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to work with NHS Wales employers and our partner agencies to eradicate physical or verbal assaults on staff.”

Last week, UK Government announced that it was introducing a new law that will mean a mandatory life sentence for those who kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty.

The Ministry of Justice said it would aim to pass ‘Harper’s Law’ in England and Wales – in memory of Thames Valley Police PC Andrew Harper, who was killed in the line of duty in 2019 – as soon as possible.

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The With Us, Not Against Us campaign was launched in May 2021 by the Joint Emergency Service Group in Wales to try and reduce the number of assaults on emergency workers.

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Charity

New firefighters to take on epic Charity hose run in Swansea

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The latest class of firefighters, that will soon graduate and be deployed to serve communities across mid and west Wales, are due to take on an Everest of a task in order to raise money for the 2Wish charity and The Fire Fighters Charity.

This Friday, 3rd December 2021, a class of 30 new firefighters, recruited and trained by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, will attempt to run lengths of hose, a common yet physical exercise within the fire and rescue service, from the pier head of Mumbles to Tesco car park in Swansea Marina, Oystermouth Road – a distance that equates to the height of mount Everest.

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The new recruits are fundraising for 2wish and The Fire Fighters Charity

Group Manager Geraint Thomas, Head of Training Delivery for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said “Our newest recruits have trained hard over the last three months, at our training facility in Earlswood and at the Fire Service Colleague in Moreton-in-Marsh, and they certainly have not chosen an easy challenge to cap off their entry training into the Fire and Rescue Service.

They are raising money towards two excellent causes, so I would urge anyone who can spare a few pounds to support their cause. Good luck to them!”

To donate, visit the Recruits 2Wish Just Giving Page or Recruits Fire Fighters Charity Just Giving Page.

(Lead image: Martin Ellard / Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service)

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