Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Operation Was a Success. But…

A senior Strathclyde Fire and Rescue officer, has told a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of a woman, Alison Hume, who fell down a mine shaft in Ayrshire, that the rescue operation was a "success".
Fatal accident? Rescue? Success?
Well, according to the senior Strathclyde Fire and Rescue officer it was a success because even though Miss Hume (who was eventually freed by mountain rescue experts) and the fire-fighter who was with her, had both been removed without any injury to any other person. Miss Hume suffered a heart attack as she was being brought to the surface.
The inquiry, at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, heard that fire-fighters were unable to rescue her as regulations stated the equipment available was for saving themselves, not members of the public.
The hearing was told that a fire-fighter had already been sent down the mine shaft to assist Ms Hume but, that when the senior Strathclyde Fire and Rescue officer arrived at the scene and took charge of the rescue operation he told a paramedic who was about to go down the shaft to stop and wait for the mountain rescue team.
The senior Strathclyde Fire and Rescue officer said if he had been in control at the outset he would not have allowed that officer to go down the hole as "It was not in our organisation's remit to conduct a rescue of that nature."
I'm reasonably sure though, that what transpired here is not what the public expect of ‘rescue services’.
However, we should welcome the revelations that despite assurances from his team that they had the experience, training and skills to affect a rescue, the senior officer at the scene admitted that he considered risk assessments more important than rescuing Miss Hume. It is a further reminder, if one is needed, of the risk avoidance culture that is stifling this country.
‘Rescue’, by it’s very nature, involves risk. And this should not be assessed by anyone other than those who are willing to take it. Especially not by middle-management bureaucrats who live in fear of litigation and justify their job by issuing the type of memos that led to this disgraceful episode. One can only hope that some of these back-minding twats find themselves in a similar situation.
On the other hand, the fire-fighters and paramedics could have just told the arseholes at head office to go and fuck themselves and rescued Ms Hume anyway.