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Improved chopper cover for cops

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Improvements: Dyfed-Powys police helicopter service

Improvements: Dyfed-Powys
police helicopter service

THE PEOPLE of Dyfed-Powys are to get better police cover from the air. New arrangements will see a helicopter continue to be based at Pembrey in Carmarthenshire, with new cover also available from elsewhere. Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon said: “This is great news for communities across our four counties. I’ve been determined for this police force to improve air cover across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys. This force covers a huge area – more than half of Wales – and policing locations so far apart brings unique challenges.”

Mr Salmon and Chief Constable Simon Prince have spent several months working towards a deal with the new National Police Air Service (NPAS) which is being rolled out following a review of air support for England and Wales. The deal, due to take effect next year, will see Dyfed-Powys’s own helicopter remain at Pembrey then be replaced at the same airport by an Airbus EC135 helicopter owned and maintained by NPAS.

It will see air support for Dyfed- Powys drawn from multiple bases and with a number of aircraft. Emergency response will be provided from Pembrey and St Athan, near Cardiff, and the force will be able to call on support from NPAS helicopters at Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, and Halfpenny Green, Wolverhampton.

The new service will cost Dyfed- Powys Police around £890,000 a year. The existing service cost the force around £1.1m in 2013-14 and is budgeted to cost around £1.2m in 2014-15. Dyfed-Powys Chief Constable Simon Prince said: “The introduction of the NPAS helicopter will allow far greater mobility to the officers of Dyfed-Powys Police and ensure that residents in every corner of the force area will benefit from this improved resource.”

The air service helps with searches for missing people, suspects and vehicles, casualty evacuation, transporting specialist teams around Dyfed-Powys’s 4,188 square miles, gathering intelligence including using automatic number plate recognition and video.

A helicopter takes around 12 minutes to search a square mile at a cost of £160 – an operation that would take 12 police officers 454 hours at a cost of around £4,680. This year the Dyfed-Powys helicopter has played a major role in recovering property worth more than £120,000, locating 23 vulnerable and missing people, and transporting seven people with life threatening injuries to hospital. It played a key role, working with neighbourhood police teams, in closing down several drugs factories and supply chains.

Flying times include Pembrey to Aberystwyth in 24 minutes; the equivalent road journey of around 64 miles takes around 112 minutes. The Dyfed-Powys helicopter unit has provided an eye-in-the-sky service for 23 years. Led by Inspector Ian Richards and featuring a sergeant, two pilots and five observers, it operates a 10-year-old Agusta 109E Power helicopter. The new arrangements will see seven of Dyfed-Powys’s nine helicopter personnel transfer to NPAS.

They will cover Dyfed-Powys but will also fly outside the area. NPAS, being paid for by all forces in England and Wales, aims to deliver a cost-effective national, borderless service making use of the nearest aircraft. It aims to improve upon current response capability. Its aircraft will be available 24/7 and will be based at strategic locations around England and Wales.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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