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Eight arrested as illegal rave is halted near Llandovery

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE broke up an illegal rave involving around 120 people in the Halfway Forest, Llandovery, on Sunday.
Following a report at approximately 6.45am, two officers attended the Natural Resources Wales-owned woodland and with the use of a drone were able to pinpoint the location, including information that 70 vehicles were in the area.
Eight people were arrested for a variety of offences including possession with intent to supply controlled drugs and driving offences, with a related search at a property in the Gloucestershire area leading to the discovery of approximately 100 grammes of cocaine.
Two of those arrested were charged and remanded to Llanelli Magistrates Court yesterday morning.
Steven Martin, aged 32, of Edwards Close, Joys Green, Lydbrook, was charged with dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified, driving without insurance and failing to stop, and Leigh Papps, aged 34, of Greenfield Road, Joys Green, Lydbrook, was charged with criminal damage.
Papps was fined £16, ordered to pay £85 court costs and a victim surcharge of £40.
Martin was given conditional bail to appear at Swansea Crown Court on 3 April and handed an interim driving ban.
A further three arrested have been released under investigation with the final three issued with adult community resolutions.
Inspector Dawn Fencott-Price said: “We know raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in, and if not dealt with swiftly are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved.
“As a force, action is taken as soon as we gather any intelligence of an event being planned. We will continue to respond swiftly to reports of illegal gatherings, and where appropriate will prosecute those responsible in order to protect our communities.
“However, these types of illegal events are carefully coordinated to avoid police attention, and organisers will always try to find new ways to avoid being found out.
“We rely on the support of communities to report any suspicious activity immediately, so action can be taken to disrupt illegal gatherings swiftly.
“I would encourage farmers, landowners and local communities to report anything they feel is suspicious or out of the ordinary.”

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All-Wales charity wins at prestigious national air ambulance awards

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THE LIFE-SAVING air ambulance service in Wales has won two top prizes at the annual Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence.

The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) and its partners the Wales Air Ambulance Charity were nominated in a trio of categories in the event organised by Air Ambulances UK – the national organisation supporting the work of the UK’s 21 air ambulance charities.

At a ceremony held at the home of Reading FC last night, (Thursday, 30 November) the service walked away with gongs for Operations Support Staff of the Year and Special Incident of the Year.

EMRTS National Director David Lockey said: “Once again the talents of our staff and quality of our service has been recognised nationally and both of the prizes are thoroughly deserved.

“They recognise the expertise, professionalism and dedication not only of our highly skilled clinicians, but also the teams that support them, from the Critical Care Hub and the administrative and logistical support to our stakeholders and partners, the Wales Air Ambulance.

“We are proud to have each of them working for EMRTS”.

Sue Barnes, Wales Air Ambulance Chief Executive, added: “We are always incredibly proud of our EMRTS colleagues. Each and every day, the medical and aviation crews deliver exceptional care across the country, supported by the expertise of those who coordinate our service from the Critical Care Hub.

“We are absolutely delighted to see this recognised by the air ambulance community and our congratulations go to all of the award winners. It is a moment to fully appreciate their dedication and to say thank you to our Charity supporters who allow us to deliver such a critical service for Wales.”

The winner of the Operations Support category was EMRTS Critical Care Hub manager Greg Browning, having been nominated by colleagues for his exemplary and outstanding service.

The Hub, based in Cwmbran, is the centre of the Wales Air Ambulance service. Operating 24/7, an allocator/ dispatcher and critical care practitioner monitor every 999 call made to the Welsh Ambulance Service and identify where early critical care intervention is required before dispatching the most appropriate Wales Air Ambulance resource.

Greg is responsible for the complex management of making sure the operation runs smoothly, and since joining the service back in 2015 has been an instrumental member of the team.

Speaking after his win, Greg said: “I am beyond thrilled. This is first time I have been nominated for an award, let alone win one, and it is undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of my entire career. 

“Knowing that my colleagues were behind the scenes nominating me for this award makes me feel hugely honoured and is something I shall cherish. The entire table erupted when I won, which is still surreal. I am grateful every day for the opportunities EMRTS and the Wales Air Ambulance have presented me with, and this is quite simply the icing on the cake.”

EMRTS medics also won the Special Incident of the Year Award for the delivery of extremely premature twins in a home environment.

Two EMRTS crews in Wales Air Ambulance Charity rapid response vehicles were last year dispatched by CCP Tom Archer and Critical Air Support Dispatcher, Katie Manson, to a woman in labour at just 24 weeks.

With the twins being so premature the odds of their survival were extremely low.

Critical Care Practitioners Josh Eason, Elliott Rees, Marc Frowen and Critical Care Consultant Dr Laura Owen, delivered the twins and were able to provide advanced critical care interventions in challenging conditions, with the support of top cover consultant Dr Matt O’Meara.

The emergency included extremely difficult intubations, mechanical ventilation, and the administration of lifesaving medication. Despite the conditions, the twins were stabilised and safely transported to the nearest neonatal unit. Despite challenging odds, their advanced care paved the way for one twin’s miraculous survival.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Critical Care Practitioner Josh Eason said the awards are testament to the work the Wales Air Ambulance does on a daily basis.

He said: “The event was amazing, and the atmosphere was wonderful. It was so nice to celebrate all of our colleagues’ excellence across all air ambulance charities across the UK and come together as one big team. We are all really proud to win our award and we are equally honoured to have been nominated and shortlisted against some amazingly talented and deserving air ambulance charities.

“Everyone is a winner in their own right, and we are shocked but extremely grateful to receive our award. The team are thrilled and so proud. Everyone in our category demonstrated the amazing work the air ambulance teams do and the real life benefit of providing critical care to patients.

“The awards are an opportunity to reflect on the work that the air ambulance charities do and highlight the positives and achievements and are a great example of why we do the work that we do.”       

Operations Director Mark Winter was also shortlisted for Lifetime Achievement award for a long and distinguished career at the hub of EMRTS. He continues to be the operational glue for the organisation and always goes above and beyond to ensure that the organisation functions and all of its members are safe and well looked after.

The Wales Air Ambulance service is consultant-led, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient and, if required, transferring them directly to the most appropriate hospital for their illness or injury. For the patient, this can mean hours saved when compared to standard care and is proven to greatly improve survival and early recovery. 

This advanced critical care includes the ability to administer anaesthesia, deliver blood transfusions and conduct minor operations, all at the scene of an incident.

The Service is often described as a ‘flying emergency department’, however, it can also deliver the same standard of care by road via its fleet of rapid response vehicles.

This 24/7 service is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership. The Wales Air Ambulance Charity relies on public donations to raise the £11.2 million required every year to keep the helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road. The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles.  

As a pan-Wales service, its dedicated crews will travel the length and breadth of the country to deliver emergency lifesaving care.

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Three Dyfed-Powys Police nominations win Wales Safer Communities Awards 

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Dyfed-Powys Police’s Economic Crime Team, INTACT – a multi-agency partnership to combat serious violence and organised crime in Dyfed-Powys, and the Integrated Offender Manageent (IOM) housing project in Dyfed-Powys won awards at the Wales Safer Communities Award in Swansea this week.

The Safer Communities Awards were being held to recognise outstanding contributions to community safety in a multi-agency context. The Awards Ceremony was an opportunity to recognise those who have had a real impact on people’s lives throughout the year.

The Economic Crime Team (Safeguarding Award Winners), INTACT (Serious Violence Award Winners) and the IOM project (Offending and Justice Award) were three of four nominees put forward by Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn for an award.

Over recent years, staff and officers from Dyfed-Powys Police as well as some key partners who work within all three of these business areas have shown commitment and dedication to safeguarding the communities of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Powys according to PCC Llywelyn, and deserve to be recognised nationally.

In April 2020, Dyfed-Powys’ Economic Crime Team took over the management of all fraud and cybercrime incidents reported to the Force as a call for service – triaging the reports and engaging with victims at the earliest opportunity in order to provide consistent subject matter expert advice, guidance and support and to ensure accurate reporting to Action Fraud.

By taking on the management of all fraud and cybercrime incidents the Economic Crime Team has not only reduced the strain on frontline officers but have gained positive feedback from victims within the community, with many commenting on the quality of service and reassurance they have received.

Formed in 2019, INTACT is a multi-agency partnership to combat serious violence and organised crime in Dyfed-Powys. This partnership was formed in 2019.

The aim is to reduce the harm caused to individuals and communities by serious violence and organised crime (SVOC). It operates under the 4P approach to policing: Prepare; Protect; Prevent; Pursue.  They work closely with partner agencies to provide early intervention & prevention service to protect those most at risk of engaging in SVOC as victims or offenders.  To date, over 600 children, young people and vulnerable adults have been offered a variety of targeted interventions.

The Dyfed-Powys Integrated Offender Management (IOM) housing project in Ceredigion is a Provision of temporary move on accommodation for Integrated Offender Management offenders.

The IOM team in Ceredigion identified accommodation as the key need amongst the cohort to attempt to break the offending cycle. Existing multi-occupancy projects didn’t provide an environment or opportunity for rehabilitation.

The PCC provided set up funding for a dedicated property (single bedroom flat) to stabilise IOM nominals while more long-term accommodation was found.  Since the project was established in 2021, seven nominals have used the property, with main criminogenic needs being accommodation, drugs and mental health. Six nominals have since been de-selected from IOM, with one remaining on the scheme. Reasons for de-selection are that pathways have successfully stabilised, and the individuals no longer require intense multi-agency wraparound support.

In congratulating the three initiatives, Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said; “I am immensely proud to congratulate Dyfed-Powys Police and the multi-agency partners, on the well-deserved recognition given to them at the national Wales Safer Communities Award this week.

“The dedication and exceptional efforts of our Economic Crime Team, Serious Violence and Organised Crime Team, and the Integrated Offender Management housing project team have all been acknowledged through these Awards. 

“This accomplishment highlights a commitment to safeguarding our communities by tackling complex challenges. Their achievements are a testament to the collaborative spirit and effectiveness of staff and officers, and I extend my sincere appreciation to all involved and commend them for their exemplary service.”

Also receiving recognition at the Awards was the Dyfed-Powys Community Champion initiative. This initiative is a partnership programme between West Wales Domestic Abuse Services, Calan Domestic Violence Service, Threshold, Montgomery Family Crisis Centre and Carmarthenshire Domestic Abuse Service. The Champions educational programme raises awareness of stalking, harassment and hate crimes, working towards creating safer communities, encouraging participants to become Upstanders and report as appropriate. 

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Withybush paediatric care gone for good in yet another blow for hospital

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OVER seven years after “temporarily” closing Withybush’s 24-hour Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU), Hywel Dda UHB decided to close the department permanently on Thursday, November 30.
In January, the Board will meet to receive the plan for its implementation plan to make the change permanent.

A FOREGONE CONCLUSION

Describing the Board’s decision as a foregone conclusion would be grossly unfair. But, as Thursday’s meeting chugged along, it became clear it was.
Bluntly, the Board has neither the money, resources, nor staff to return paediatric care to Withybush. It didn’t have them before the consultation began. In the interim period, the only thing that changed was the catastrophically worse financial performance that led to the Board being subject to enhanced monitoring by the Welsh Government.
The Board’s ability to deliver its preferred option, which included returning some outpatient services for children to Withybush, is doubtful.
However, it now needs a plan to implement its plan. That plan to have a plan for its implementation plan will be discussed in January when the Board will discuss the planned plan for a plan.
If the planned plan for a plan doesn’t work out, the Board will go back to the drawing board to draw up another plan for its plan.

A “TEMPORARY” PROBLEM

In three years, the Board moved from a 24/7 service to a promise to return to a 12/7 service to a bold attempt to preserve an 8/7 service.
As our columnist Badger noted five years ago, the next step was bound to be a 0/7 service.
And then Covid came along.
PACU was closed, and its services “temporarily” transferred to Glangwili during the pandemic.
At the end of the pandemic, PACU didn’t return.
Instead, the Board justified its continued cessation because of the risk of a spike in respiratory viruses.
When that spike didn’t happen, the Board consulted on a “permanent solution”.
And that permanent solution – as glaringly obvious for years – was permanent closure.

A DECADE OF WORTHLESS REASSURANCE

In 2014, the Board stopped providing 24-hour paediatric care at
Withybush. At the time, it said that a 12-hour provision was deliverable, and it planned to return 24-hour paediatric care to Withybush once it recruited clinical staff.
By then, there was only ONE advert for a single paediatric consultant at Withybush and NONE for nurses specialising in paediatric care.
At one point at the end of 2015, the Board suspended its recruitment campaign for posts at WithyWithybush’s after claiming to have recruited staff to fill vacancies there. It announced an intention to launch a more focused campaign later.
In November 2016, the Board restated its commitment to maintaining the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit’s opening hours at Withybush from 10am-10pm, even though it faced “renewed and significant workforce challenges at the consultant level”.
In 2017, CEO Steve Moore said the Board was clear: “The changes to paediatric services are temporary and in response to us needing to ensure a safe and reliable service for our families with the consultant paediatricians available.”
After ending the 12-hour PACU cover, the Board did not launch an effort to recruit for three months after its closure.
By the end of the same year, the Board said: “Unfortunately, we have not been able to recruit a sufficient number of consultants to support the re-establishment of the 12-hour PACU service, although our recruitment efforts continue.
“In the meantime, the Health Board is working with staff and partners to explore a number of ideas to support a sustainable PACU service for the longer term.”
In 2018, the Community Health Council issued a report.
It said: “The health board needs to do all it can to resolve the current temporary reduced hours arrangements in PACU”.

CONSULT THE PUBLIC, THEN IGNORE THEM

Thursday’s meeting continued to offer mealy-mouthed platitudes instead of health services.

Board members suggested that parents of children in need of paediatric care would be reassured by the clarity the permanent removal of a key service from Pembrokeshire would provide.
Discussing the lack of transport options, Board members said they would publicise the availability of the Designated Ambulance Vehicle and the use of a taxi service to ferry children and parents from Glangwili.
The disconnection between the Pembrokeshire public and the Board over the issues could not be more complete.
Board members said that the main problem with the attitude of Pembrokeshire’s concerned parents was communication.
Pembrokeshire’s respondents to the Board’s conscientious rubber-stamping process were clear the issue was not communication but concern about timely treatment close to home.
70% said PACU should return to Withybush. The Board’s alternative, closing PACU for good, was overwhelmingly rejected.
If communication were the issue, not the provision of treatment at Withybush, the Board could have resolved it by being straightforward and transparent.
It wasn’t.
All the communication in the world, delivered by the best communicators money can buy, cannot circumvent that epic failure of honesty.
Describing the Board’s decision as a foregone conclusion would be grossly unfair. But, as the meeting ground on, it became clear it was.
Bluntly, the Board has neither the money, resources, nor staff to return paediatric care to Withybush. It didn’t have them before the consultation began. In the interim period, the only thing that changed was the catastrophically worse financial performance that led to the Board being subject to enhanced monitoring by the Welsh Government.

TOTAL DISCONNECTION

Board members suggested that parents of children in need of paediatric care would be reassured by the clarity the permanent removal of a key service from Pembrokeshire would provide.
Discussing the lack of transport options, Board members said they would publicise the availability of the Designated Ambulance Vehicle and the use of a taxi service to ferry children and parents from Glangwili.
The disconnection between the Pembrokeshire public and the Board over the issues could not be more complete.
Board members said that the main problem with the attitude of Pembrokeshire’s concerned parents was communication.
Pembrokeshire’s respondents to the Board’s conscientious rubber-stamping process were clear the issue was not communication but concern about timely treatment close to home.
If communication was the issue, not the provision of treatment at Withybush, the Board could have resolved issues by being honest and transparent from the outset. It wasn’t. All the communication in the world, delivered by the best communicators money can buy, cannot circumvent that epic failure.

PERMANENT CLOSURE “BETTER”

Six years ago, “temporary” became the status quo.
Then “temporary” became a further “temporary reduction”. During Covid, the whole service was “temporarily” withdrawn.
So intense was Board members’ collective delusion at Thursday’s meeting that the permanent removal of the PACU service and its replacement with a vague promise of some outpatient clinics for children returning to Withybush sometime over the rainbow was represented as an improvement on the current position.
Even this Thursday morning, the current position was “temporary”, not permanent.
The Health Board’s thesaurus must look very peculiar.
Its word games demonstrate the extent to which the Board had long dispensed with the pretence of PACU’s closure temporary nature.
In the meantime, the Board plans to tell more people about its Dedicated Ambulance Vehicle and plans to fund taxis for distressed parents and sick and injured children.
You can bet that’ll make everything better.

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