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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Council urges people to attend organised fireworks displays

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Swansea Council is urging residents to attend organised fireworks displays rather than light up their own this Bonfire Night season.

The Council is supporting police, fire and other emergency services to encourage people not to let off fireworks in their gardens or in the street.

Instead they’re calling on people to enjoy themselves responsibly by following the Firework Code, keeping pets indoors and being mindful of neighbours.

The council is organising a free fireworks display in Swansea Bay on November 12 so that residents don’t have to arrange their own.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism said: “Fireworks can be noisy and if they’re not managed extremely carefully, they’re a danger to bystanders and the people setting them off.

“On top of that noisy fireworks, especially those that are at unplanned events or in the street, are upsetting for many people and alarming to pets too.

“So we are urging people who want to enjoy the fireworks to go to an organised display or come along to our free fireworks event next week.  

“These events will have been advertised in advance so that people can make plans accordingly.”

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Swansea Council’s trading standards teams have also been in touch with businesses and retailers selling fireworks to make sure they are abiding by regulations on fireworks sales, especially to those who are under-age.

The Council’s own fireworks display will be free once again this year, just not on 5 November.

With thousands of families and individuals are expected to attend, they’ll enjoy the show on the wide open spaces of Swansea Beach and the prom.

The council say that high tides mean that a show on November 5 isn’t possible for this location, so the best alternative date – Friday, November 12 – is when the show will take place. Low tide that evening will means maximum space for spectators.

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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.

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.

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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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

New joint fire and ambulance initiative aims to safeguard vulnerable people at home

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THE Welsh Ambulance Service has partnered with fire and rescue services to launch a new initiative to better protect vulnerable people at risk of an accident in their home.

The new system allows ambulance crews to e-refer at-risk patients to their fire and rescue service counterparts in North, Mid and West and South Wales for a Safe and Well check.

Fire crews can then visit the property to mitigate any risks.

Nikki Harvey, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Head of Safeguarding, said: “Ambulance crews go to a patient’s property to deliver medical interventions, but often while they’re there, they’ll spot things in the home which raise a red flag.

“It could be that there isn’t a smoke alarm, that electrical sockets are overloaded or that there’s a build-up of fat on cooking appliances, all of which present a fire hazard.

“It could be that the patient has cigarette burns on their clothes or furniture, or that the patient’s hoarding has blocked an escape route.

“The new referral form – which our crews complete on an iPad – streamlines the process completely and makes it easier than ever before to enlist the support of fire service colleagues and safeguard that patient.

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“Anything that we can do collectively to improve patient safety, mitigate the risk of accidents and prevent harm could reduce 999 calls in the future.”

Tim Owen, Community Safety Manager at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, on behalf of the three Welsh fire and rescue services, said: “The Welsh Ambulance Service and the regional fire services in Wales work together operationally every day.

“This agreement will enable us to extend this work, identifying those most at risk and vulnerable in our communities to make them safer.

“The sharing of information will enable us to develop the principles of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, targeting our services to those in most need of support.

“It will also provide a template for promoting future joint working.”

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(Lead image: Welsh Ambulance Service Trust)

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