Monday, February 27, 2012
The picture that shames Britain: As a man's body floats in three and a half feet of water, 25 emergency workers stand and watch because they aren't 'trained' to go in water
The busy scene on the banks of the lake appears to show our emergency services at their dynamic best. An air ambulance stands by as two specialist officers in yellow ‘immersion suits’ deliver a man who has collapsed into the water to paramedics at the water’s edge.
They attempt to resuscitate him inside an inflatable tent. A queue of ambulances and fire engines stands by ready and waiting near a small crowd of shocked onlookers. Yet the story behind this picture is anything but impressive.
This was Walpole Park in Gosport, Hampshire, on an overcast lunchtime last March when no fewer than 25 members of the emergency services, including a press officer, descended on a 3½ft-deep model boating lake minutes after Simon Burgess, 41, fell into the water when he suffered a seizure. But as an inquest heard last week, he lay floating face-down for more than half an hour while firemen, police and paramedics watched and did nothing.
The reason? Even though they could all swim, the first fire crew to arrive hadn’t been ‘trained’ to enter water higher than ankle-deep. Instead they waited for ‘specialists’ to arrive to retrieve his body. They had decided Mr Burgess must surely be dead because he had been in the water for ten minutes. When a policeman decided to go in anyway, he was ordered not to. A paramedic was also told not to enter the water because he didn’t have the right ‘protective’ clothing and might be in breach of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
The tragic incident made headlines around the world, held up as a shocking example of ludicrously risk-averse Britain. And it prompted a coroner to demand that fire, police and ambulance services improve training to prevent a repeat.
Following the inquest, a Mail on Sunday investigation has now discovered that:
* The ‘ankle-deep’ rule was meant for fast-flowing water and is taken from guidelines drawn up to deal with floods.
* Other rescue agencies believe people can survive submerged for much longer than ten minutes – some will still try resuscitation at 90 minutes.
* The incident happened despite a previous reassurance from the Health and Safety Executive that firefighters would not face prosecution if they performed acts of heroism that break rules.
* Mr Burgess could have been reached within two minutes of emergency crews arriving at the scene – as proved by our reporter who went into the lake and waded 25ft to the spot where his body had been floating.
Mr Burgess had been feeding swans from a plastic bag that blew into the lake. He went in to retrieve it and while he was in the water he had a fit and fell unconscious. Last week, Coroner David Horsley ruled his death was an accident on the balance of probabilities, but said there was a chance, ‘albeit a slim one’, he could have been saved had the emergency services intervened sooner.
Fire station watch manager Tony Nicholls arrived at the scene within five minutes but refused to try to rescue Mr Burgess because, he told the inquest, his crew’s ‘Level 1’ training only allowed them to go in the water up to their ankles.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue said all its firefighters were trained to Level 1, which includes ‘general water safety awareness and basic land-based rescue techniques’. To comply with the guidelines, they had to wait for a specialist water rescue team to arrive. Mr Nicholls said these officers were ‘Level 2-trained’, meaning they could ‘go in chest- high’. Only those who had completed the Level 3 course would be allowed to swim, however.
Although it wasn’t made clear at the inquest, the rule about not entering water more than ankle-high is based entirely on guidelines drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for tackling flood emergencies.
A Hampshire Fire and Rescue spokesman admitted the service knew the guideline was originally intended as advice to be followed at flood incidents – but the service insists firefighters apply it in ALL water-related incidents.
A Defra spokeswoman explained: ‘Our guidance is only ever to be used by the emergency services in response to a flood. This is because floods by their very nature are highly unpredictable, unlike existing bodies of water. Our guidance should never be used in any other instance.’
However, the Government’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, Sir Ken Knight, has included the Defra training recommendations in an ‘operational guidance’ document on water safety.
One of the police officers at the scene, PC Tony Jones, told the inquest that he volunteered to go in, but was ‘strongly advised’ not to by Mr Nicholls. The PC also told the inquest that Mr Nicholls refused to let him borrow his lifejacket.
Then PC Jones was told by his control room that ‘under no circumstances’ should he attempt a rescue. Asked to explain that decision, Hampshire Police said yesterday: ‘The fire service were already there and they were recovering a body.’ The decision to downgrade the incident from a rescue to a ‘body retrieval situation’ reflected the confusion over submersion victims.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution said the only instances in which its rescuers would not attempt resuscitation would be if a body was already decomposing, or had been submerged for more than 90 minutes. Rescuers in the US believe a person can be revived after being immersed in water for up to an hour.
Professor Mike Tipton, of Ports–mouth University, concluded in a report for the emergency services last year that if ‘water temperature is warmer than 6C [42F], survival is extremely unlikely if submerged longer than 30 minutes’.
Chances of survival are much higher if water temperature is lower than this, but not if the body is submerged for more than 90 minutes.
He produced examples of people who had been saved after submersion of between 20 and 60 minutes.
Despite the safety rules, those at the scene could have entered the water under Health and Safety Executive guidelines that exempt 999 workers from prosecution if they perform acts of heroism. This follows Lord Young’s report, Common Sense, Common Safety, which called for an end to ‘senseless’ rules and regulations.
Last night, Fire Minister Bob Neill said: ‘Health and safety rules should be there to save lives, not put them at risk.’ He added that the Government would review existing guidance and take into account lessons learnt from recent incidents.
The new tyranny of temperance
Some government officials will only be happy when Britain resembles a giant Alcoholics Anonymous meeting
Whether it’s ‘hidden alcoholics’, middle-class professionals ‘for whom one glass of wine after work is never enough’, or yobbish working-class drinkers causing a nuisance in public, the attempts by government and campaigners to root out and tackle those deemed to be drinking ‘excessively’ have never been more aggressive.
From the prime minister to the media, there’s one thing everyone seems to agree on: Britain’s boozing has reached ‘scandalous’ proportions. ‘This is a national problem, it needs the government really to focus on it’, UK prime minister David Cameron declared last week, referring to what he called the ‘rising tide’ of irresponsible drinking across the country.
But it’s not just loud yobbish drunks going out on the lash and injuring themselves and others and winding up in hospital casualty departments on Friday and Saturday nights that are the problem: it’s also the ‘hidden alcoholics’, the middle-class wine drinkers who sup several glasses of sauvignon blanc on the sofa at night. Tonight on the BBC’s Panorama, former New Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell will confess, once again, to having been a secret alcoholic himself, and will highlight the fact that ‘nearly 9,000 people’ die each year from alcohol-related diseases. He will also wheel out an assortment of medical experts who will diagnose a ‘health crisis’ in the country.
But, given we’re all going to die of something, surely we should have the freedom to shorten our lives a little by having pint or two too many if we like? Apparently not. As well as emphasising the ‘anti-social behaviour’ alcohol causes, the government and campaigners alike are quick to point to what the Observer yesterday called ‘the intolerable burden being placed on the health services’. Even by overindulging on the vino by ourselves at home, we are apparently being irresponsible and causing a public nuisance – by potentially contributing to what David Cameron claims could be between £17 billion and £22 billion per year spent on ‘alcohol-related costs’. Campaign group Alcohol Concern has claimed that each taxpayer stumps up £1,000 of tax per year to tackle this problem.
The precise way such figures are arrived at is questionable. It is certainly the case that the amount of revenue brought in through taxation on alcohol covers the NHS bill for alcohol-related issues, with a couple of billion pounds left to spare. And, strikingly, the increase in hype about a drinking ‘epidemic’ in Britain coincides with a significant decline in per capita alcohol consumption. According to the Office of National Statistics, since 2002 there has been a steady drop in the amount of alcohol drunk by people of all ages.
Exactly why and how an increase in excessive drinking coincides with a fall in alcohol consumption is currently a source of confusion. But, regardless, the political and media classes are convinced they know the solution: to drink even less. While welcoming the drop in alcohol consumption as ‘good news’, an Observer editorial declared ‘a strong strategy is still urgently required if we are all to learn when put a stop on the bottle’.
Many have already given up on the idea that we can ‘learn’ when enough booze is enough, however. Increasingly, drinking more than the government’s recommended units of alcohol each week – which, notoriously, was a figure plucked out of thin air – is being portrayed as the result of addictive behaviour. As Alcoholics Anonymous famously put it, we are ‘powerless over alcohol’. Our addiction has apparently impaired our rationality. Typifying this trend was Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, who last week spoke of his decision to go tee-total after discovering to his youthful horror that he would often drink alcohol on social occasions. This was diagnosed as alcohol addiction, best tackled by abstaining completely.
Later this year, the coalition government is set to unveil an alcohol strategy which will outline ways to curb people’s drinking habits. While David Cameron has argued that ‘this isn’t just about more rules and regulation’, it is evident a barrage of new rules and regulations are coming our way. He has expressed a personal desire to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol, to have police patrolling hospitals and to introduce US-style ‘drunk tanks’ where people deemed to be too drunk are incarcerated until they’ve sobered up. Some campaigners go even further, with one suggesting that drinking licences should be given to everyone on their eighteenth birthday. These would then be revoked should a certain number of points be obtained through irresponsible drinking.
While such a proposal seems not to be on the cards just yet, the fact that campaigners feel sufficiently emboldened to make such illiberal proposals shows the extent to which the new temperance movement is gaining force in Britain today. Alcohol is set to get more expensive; anyone getting drunk in public could be banged up; and those choosing to drink at home will be increasingly stigmatised as alcohol addicts. To many anti-alcohol campaigners, this is simply a small step in the desired direction: to get the whole country to adopt an Alcoholics Anonymous mindset.
OIC “Workshops” Speech Crime
Stealth and violent jihadists have discovered the alchemist’s secret of turning gold into lead – that is, of turning freedom of speech into a risky and unwanted liability. It’s really quite simple, obvious for all to see. The formula is similar to the “good cop/bad cop” routine of detective movies.
Start with a cartoon of Mohammad, or a dozen of them, or with public remarks that directly or indirectly hold Islam and Muslims responsible for terrorism, or publish a scholarly, cogent paper on the totalitarian and brutal natures of Islam, or give a mooning “arse-lifter” on a public street the literal boot in a heart-felt moment of disrespect for a manqué bowing to meteorite and who’s in your way.
Of course, the remarks, the charges, the papers, and even the disrespect are responses to about thirty years of irrational Muslim behavior.
Any one of those actions will precipitate riots, calls for death to apostates and insulters of Islam, noisy, ugly demonstrations, chants of “Islam will dominate,” the waving of black jihad flags, and general pandemonium across the globe. And a few dozen or few score deaths at the hands of the insulted. All incidents starring Muslims. Not to mention the self-censorship of newspapers and book publishers, who abandon the issue for safety reasons; who, to borrow a line from “Seinfeld,” draw their heads into their shells like frightened turtles.
When the fires have been put out and the streets cleared of debris and the signs stashed away until the next defamation or insult, things will be quiet for a while.
Then will come calls to tone down the anger and the rhetoric – addressed, not to the rioters, murderers, and Muslim clerics – but to those whose words, cartoons, or actions “offended” the congenitally offendable. The calls will be made by those responsible for keeping law and order and establishing policy. In order to maintain civil order and manageable budgets, it is decreed that anyone criticizing Islam or making fun of Islam and Muslims, will be charged with hate speech, or exhibiting disrespect for one of the world’s oldest religions, or some such, in order to prevent more destructive and costly demonstrations. It’s a matter of cause and effect, you see. If Muslim feelings weren’t hurt, if their beliefs weren’t examined or satirized or opened to the cruel sunlight of rational scrutiny, Muslims wouldn’t resort to mayhem, rape, murder, and car-burning.
It’s quite simple. Almost scientific. Just like global warming.
The calls come basically from two sets of liberals: those who are outraged that Islam has been insulted or defamed, because they are so tolerant and non-judgmental and it makes them feel good and virtuous to be so tolerant and non-judgmental; and from those who are intimidated by brute force and ugly chants and irrational behavior of any kind, and they’d just rather people shut up in the name of “community cohesion” so they won’t need to hear or see the brute force and ugly chants of those less “cohesed” than they might want to imagine.
The pattern has been repeated numerous times over the last few decades. It works. It gets results. Why? Because our political and intellectual establishments are governed by egalitarianism, multiculturalism, and moral relativism. That is, by the irrational. And irrational policies benefit only the irrational, and punish the rational. There are two classes of irrationalists: those who are irrational on principle – otherwise known as nihilists – and those whose minds have been enfeebled by egalitarianism, multiculturalism, and moral relativism. Both classes can be identified by their political correctness.
But it takes some shoulder-rubbing and much intensive study to distinguish between the nihilists and the white-tailed deer, between those who want to just shut you up and reduce you to rags, and those who flee at the first sign of a wolf.
Having proven that their mumbo-jumbo works on the cowardly and credulous infidels, the irrationalists are taking their alchemy to a new level: a ban – by hook or by crook, by shame or by sedition, by ostracism or by force – of any and all criticism of Islam and Muslims, by way of the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The OIC is a gang that works within that club of tyrannies, dictatorships, religious régimes, and clueless, compliant, and wimpy “democracies.”
Much more HERE
Must not insult Muslim "honour"
Others would call it a complete lack of honour
Cowering under her living room table with a duvet for comfort, Dr Alison Hewitt prepared to spend a sleepless night in her small Brighton flat.
In one hand, the trainee GP clutched her mobile phone ready to dial 999 at the slightest noise. In the other, she gripped her alarm clock which, she reasoned, would provide a useful source of light in an emergency. Then, uncertain if she would survive the night, she waited.
Alison was convinced that she was about to be visited by her ex-boyfriend Al Amin Dhalla, who had subjected her and her family to a vicious campaign of harassment over several months.
Her terror was heightened knowing that police, who knew all about Dhalla, had freed him on bail after finding him firing a cache of weapons – including a crossbow, air pistol and air rifle – in the Wiltshire countryside. In his car, police had found masking tape, tools and a satnav that was programmed with addresses for Alison and her mother. His claim that he had been carrying out target practice suddenly held chilling significance.
The discovery was terrifying enough to force Alison, 37, to calculate where best to position her makeshift bed if, as she feared, Dhalla turned up with a crossbow.
Last week, Dhalla, 42, a Canadian who worked in the City, was found guilty of nine charges following a four-week trial at Lewes Crown Court, including two counts of harassment, theft, arson with intent to endanger life, criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon.
Dhalla was described as a narcissistic psychopath whose outwardly mild-mannered personality and stable career was completely at odds with a violent and obsessive streak, which was only revealed after he was spurned by Alison after a year-long romance.
She has endured what she describes as a nightmare so far-fetched and surreal that she still struggles to understand it.
Speaking at her mother's thatched cottage in the pretty hamlet of Aston Abbotts near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, she says: 'I've been in major shock and total disbelief all the way through. I'm still in shock. I've also felt humiliated and mortified that I let these things happen, that my judgment was so bad.
To anyone who met Dhalla, he appeared a gentle and unassuming man with impeccable manners.
Dhalla, from Toronto, told Alison he was 35, had been in the UK for five years and was orphaned when his parents died in a car crash. All would later turn out to be lies. But he maintained the pretence – and confessed his love for Alison within two months.
He demonstrated an odd determination to move in to her flat by bringing a bag of possessions each time he visited, and Alison was flattered. After all, she was busy at work and he seemed happy to look after her.
Alison's suspicions about Dhalla were first aroused when he was introduced to her family at the wedding of Alison's mother Pamela, 66, who married David Gray in June 2010. Alison's father Anthony, a social worker and lecturer, had died 15 years previously.
Alison recalls: 'My gran confided she thought there was something suspicious about Al. She'd asked him about the car crash and decided that he was evasive. She wondered whether he was married or had kids.'
David's job, as a weapons scientist with BME, a subsidiary of global defence giant BAE Systems, required him to notify his employers of any changes to personal circumstances. Since he had recently remarried, he had mentioned his new stepdaughter's boyfriend.
Alison says: 'David's company had carried out some basic screening and some suspicions had been raised. It was vague, but suggested a criminal record. They had also hired this private detective who said Al had lied on his visa to get into the UK. He'd put "doctor in training" for his job.'
The family told Alison to leave Dhalla, saying he was dangerous, and she moved out of her flat and into a Premier Inn for some breathing space. She soon returned – after being pestered by Dhalla's telephone calls to the hotel – but after the inquest in mid-December, Alison finally confronted the relationship.
Then Dhalla's employers received an anonymous letter repeating the claim that he had lied on his work visa, and he resigned rather than face an investigation. Alison believes it was the private investigator who tipped them off, but it gave her the strength to summon her courage.
On Christmas Eve, just before starting a night shift at the hospital, she suggested they should break up. He seemed calm, and said he'd think about it. When Alison came home the following morning, their Christmas decorations, including the Christmas tree, had all gone. 'Al was angry,' she says. 'He said the decorations were in the bin outside, along with a butterfly picture from the wall and my medical degree certificate, which he'd ripped apart. That really upset me.'
On January 8, 2011, David and Alison's brother, Paul, persuaded Dhalla to move out. But Dhalla did not take rejection well.
She says: 'For the first time, I saw his eyes blazing. His pupils were animated and angry, like he was enjoying the argument. It was suddenly really intimidating. I had to promise to see him on Monday to get him to leave. But I spoke to the police and they agreed to come along and arrest him on Monday night.'
Dhalla was arrested on March 28 as he arrived at Alison's flat, on suspicion of harassment and theft of documents. He was given a restraining order, banning him from Sussex and forbidding him from contacting Alison or her family.
But on April 4 a policeman arrived at Alison's work to tell her about the arrest in Wiltshire, and how Dhalla had been shooting at targets in a field. Though his anger had clearly escalated, he was released on bail the next day. Alison says: 'I was really shocked. I had felt relieved that he would be locked up. I just knew he would come and find me. The police put a red alert against my phone number and address.
At 3am, police arrived at Alison's flat to tell her that her mother's home had been set on fire. Fortunately, the damage was limited to the front door and wall and the thatched roof did not catch alight.
At the time, Pamela and David were away on holiday in a cottage on Lundy Island – but the police were concerned enough about their safety to send a helicopter to airlift them to a safe house in Eastbourne, where Alison had also been taken.
By now, red alerts were also in place on Alison's workplaces and Dhalla was seen on CCTV at the Princess Royal hospital at Haywards Heath, West Sussex, where Alison was working at the time in obstetrics. He had posed as a doctor by stealing a stethoscope and had been asking staff about work rotas.
That night, Dhalla tried to set fire to a police station in Wing, a couple of miles from Alison's mother's home. He returned to the hospital at 5am – when Alison should have been working – and was spotted by staff and locked in a toilet until armed police arrived.
In his hired car, police found a loaded crossbow, a large knife, a claw hammer, pliers, bolt cutters, and a doctor's outfit.
Dhalla's trial lasted four weeks. Alison learnt he had rented a flat on a neighbouring street in Brighton in a bid to follow her movements, and police later said that arresting him had prevented three murders. He is due to be sentenced in April.
Alison is still unable to reconcile the apparently gentle man she knew with the armed stalker in the dock. 'I never want to see him again,' she says. 'I feel very sad that this happened, and that people can have such anger and revenge in them that it gets so out of control. I feel sad about the whole thing, rather than angry, but I know I'll recover.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.