50shadesofsun

News, Opinions and Life

Norwegian Fjords

First of many falls

Waterfalls of Lysefjord

 

Since Ian cannot post tonight, I thought I would share with you a blog I wrote about 3 years ago.

There are few things more majestic than a scenic ride into the Norwegian Fjords by boat. First, you pass through little villages, then as the fjords begin to tower above you on either side you see the splendour of what you are there for. This spectacle rises so dramatically out of the water and walls you in with their beauty. As you pass further into these giant natural formations, you come upon water falls flowing into the water and creating pools of foam. Still further into the fjord as the walls at your sides become closer you will not feel that they are closing in on you. You will be in awe with nature. In these waters, you may encounter seals along with goats on the shore. No matter how bad the weather, you feel like you are a part of nature for this portion of your life. This is Lysefjord! On a cliff six hundred metres above you there are hundreds of people looking down on you. Some will climb up this rock named Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock as it is called. As you go further along, there is another formation which appears to be a boulder in between two cliffs. This boulder, named Kjeragbolten – Kjerag for short, rises one thousand metres above the water. There are many adventurers who jump onto this boulder between cliffs. An adventure not to be missed.

Inside Geirangerfjord

Inside passage of Geirangerfjord

Another not to be missed sight is Geirangerfjord. There are two very important ways to see this fjord. First is by boat, second is a tour up the eagle road with its eleven hairpin turns. Try to do both if you have time. Coming along the fjord, as the water narrows, you will pass quaint villages and little hamlets with many brick red homes. You will wonder why you don’t live in one of these homes with so much beauty surrounding you. You will pass by several waterfalls, one being known as ‘the bridal veil’ and one of the other important ones of note is ‘seven sisters’. Both of these falls are quite picture worthy. As a matter of fact, this fjord is so picturesque that it is now a Unesco world heritage site. If you are more into the adventurous feeling this fjord can give you, then make sure you kayak on Geirangerfjord. After you come back out of Geiranger and its beauty, make sure you hop on a bus going up the eagle road. There are many photo spots of the fjord below as you climb by coach.

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Search and Rescue dogs have key role worldwide

911 dog

There seems to be a sizeable portion of the readers of this blog who take more than a passing interest in the lifesaving activities of mountain rescue teams and another group of people who love to read about dogs and other animals.

Well, today’s blog should satisfy them all as it is all about search and rescue dogs.

These are known throughout the world for their work in finding missing people or those buried by masses of avalanche snow or rubble from collapsed buildings. They always seem to be at the heart of post-earthquake searches and were an important part of the search operation at Ground Zero, in the wake of the 9/11 Twin Towers disaster in New York.

This year, 13 years after that terrible time, golden retriever Bretagne, the last surviving rescue dog who searched Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, revisited the scene.

In September, aged nearly 16 and enjoying her retirement, Bretagne returned to the Manhattan site for the first time since 2001, accompanied by Denise Corliss, her longtime handler and owner. They live now, as then, in Texas.

Nearer to my home, if a search dog is needed then police or rescue teams call upon the services of members and dogs of SARDA, the Search and Rescue Dogs Association.

helencluanieSARDA Wales is a specialist Search Dog component of Mountain Rescue (England and Wales) and are permanently staffed by unpaid volunteer dog handlers and their dogs to provide a search and rescue service to the Police, Mountain Rescue & Coastguard.

Dogs are trained in specialist skills including air scenting and trailing dogs to search for missing people in mountain, rural and urban locations. The association has 80-90 call outs each year in North Wales including missing children, vulnerable adults, dementia patients as well as hill walkers and mountaineers. Handlers and dogs are on call 365 days per year in any weather.

There is no doubt that handlers love their dogs and are united by a willingness to go out in any weather at any time of day to search for missing people anywhere in North Wales and occasionally beyond. Many SARDA Wales handlers are also members of Mountain Rescue teams. The three nearest me, Llanberis, Ogwen Valley and Aberglaslyn teams, have SARDA handlers and dogs in their organisations.

It takes many hours of commitment to train a search dog and it’s a continual process throughout each dog’s working career with the dogs and handlers regularly being assessed to ensure that they maintain the higantmossh standards for which they have come to be well-known.

Every mountain dog handler is an accomplished climber and mountaineer in their own right in summer and winter conditions, as well as being a member of a Mountain Rescue Team. Mountain dog teams are assessed at lowland standard first and then go on to be assessed at mountain level. Skills include avalanche searches and every handler is equipped to be self-sufficient in all weathers and conditions. Handlers play key roles in their own rescue teams as well as being available as a dog team to every other rescue team in North Wales.

All SARDA air scenting dog teams train as lowland search teams. They are trained and assessed to cover open areas, buildings, woodland, sand dunes and caravan parks and this type of work forms the majority of call outs. Lowland areas can be extremely complex to search and require a great deal of skill from both dog and handler. There are often many distractions and the dog will often be working out of sight in complex ground.

The trailing dogs can follow a scent of a specific person from the point that they were last seen. They can work in almost any area from urban to mountain and are trained to ignore other scents to find only the person for whom they are looking.

Running SARDA and its training and assessment operations is not cheap. As I have said, they are all volunteers, all unpaid, and they rely entirely on donations to fund the association.

salspinTo give you an idea of the costs involved, here is a summary of its main expenditure items: Assessment Weekend – Cost £2000; Training Weekend with accommodation and catering – £750; Equip a new dog team – £2000; Search Managers Lap Top with software – £1000; Re-equip an existing dog team with new waterproofs – £500; Cover a dog teams motor expenses for a year – £300; and cover a search dogs annual pet insurance – £300.

In total, SARDA Wales’s annual running costs average about £20,000 and its only income is from public donations.

If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so online by following this link or use your mobile phone (cellphone)  to text SDOG01 £5 to 70070 to donate (of course, you can change the amount)

Practical support is also welcome. Volunteers are needed as ‘Dogsbodies’ and to help with catering at training/assessment weekends.

Dogsbodies are vital as without bodies to find the dogs cannot train. Volunteer Dogsbodies will get a friendly welcome, free food and accommodation in North Wales for the weekend and join the team as a valued member.

Some important qualities are: You must like dogs and be happy to get wet and slobbered on! Must have a sense of humour and be prepared to hide in obscure places in all weathers. Lastly, you must be happy to take instructions.

Anyone interested should email info@sardawales.org.uk for further details.

 

Pictures, from top:

Bretagne, 9/11 search dog, now retired

Helen with Cluanie, Llanberis MRT

Antony with Moss, Aberglaslyn MRT

Sally with Spin, Ogwen Valley MRT

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Nobody puts Baby in the corner

fin dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby (Jessie Hart) and Johnny Houseman (Lewis Kirk) danced their way to success in the roles made famous 28 years ago by Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.

 

A stupendous production with fantastic scenery and stunning visual effects brought a well-deserved standing ovation from a packed theatre when, last night, Lisa and I saw Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage. It was live on stage at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, as part of its UK national tour.

Meanwhile, the same producers have other performing companies on tour in the USA and Australia with more countries lined up to make it a real worldwide enterprise.

Of course, I can only speak of the UK show but if the others are anything like the performance we saw last night, all I can say is: if it comes to a theatre near you, don’t hesitate, buy your tickets immediately.

Moreover, it is on at Venue Cymru until Saturday 17th October, so if you are anywhere near North Wales make the effort to go and see it. You won’t regret it – but don’t delay as tickets are selling really fast.

I doubt many people have not seen the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing that starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey; that was a rip-roaring box office hit and I just have to say that this stage show captured everyone’s favourite parts of the film to perfection.

Lewis Kirk excelled as Johnny Castle while Jessie Hart danced her way into our hearts as Frances Houseman, better known as ‘Baby’.

So let’s take you back. It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year- old ‘Baby’ is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.

Baby’s life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences.

But it is not just Johnny and Baby that were great, there is the rest of the energetic cast that wrapped up the whole audience in a totally authentic stage version of the movie.

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage features hit songs including ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do you love me?’ and the heart-stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life’.

Many favourite original masters are featured within this stage sensation blending the movie soundtrack seamlessly with live performances by the cast. Some of these classic tracks include ‘Cry To Me’ by the larger-than-life rhythm & blues singer, Solomon Burke, the no.1 hit single ‘Hey! Baby’ by Bruce Channel and ‘These arms of mine’, Otis Redding’s first solo record.

Of course, the very last and highly emotional scene (yes there were some tears in the audience) is when Johnny says the famous line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” and then they go into the I’ve Had the Time of my Life dance that culminates in Castle’s lift of Baby as she seems to fly in his arms.

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The author’s years of experience in journalism includes being a theatrical columnist and critic.

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World has history of extremism

Fire mem

Extremists are generally accepted as being bad news by most people who regard themselves as reasonable or moderate.

Jihadists, such as those making up the murderous Islamic State, are probably the most well-known extremists in today’s world but they are by no means the only ones; neither now nor in history.

In earlier times, fundamentalist Christians found themselves in violent conflict with rebels in Syria; the white-supremacist Klu Klux Klan burnt crosses and carried out terror campaigns mainly in USA’s deep south; and both republican and ‘loyalist’ paramilitary organisations killed and maimed in Northern Ireland. Of course, the most renowned and successful act of terrorism by an extremist group was the 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon, Washington DC.

Pool namesAlong with the other plane hijacks, the effect of flying two air liners into the towers was devastating. Thousands died on that sad day, not only many who worked there but also hundreds of firefighters who entered the buildings to try and save people.

And we have seen extreme terrorist groups such as the Red Brigade and Black September. It was the latter group that was responsible for the atrocity involving the kidnap and subsequent massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and one police officer at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. This horrendous event is firmly etched in the memory of those who were around at the time.

To a lesser degree, we have seen American citizens angry at the killing of black people by white police officers. This has given rise to a protest group ranged under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’. Some of their protests have included a chant “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon”, referring to killing police officers. That is a terrible thing to incite. There is no way that I can condone violence of that kind.

While I am reluctant, as a British citizen, to comment on domestic issues in the USA, for what it’s worth, I really do need to express my own views. Right here, right now.

Of course black lives matter, how could anyone argue otherwise? But so do Asian lives, Oriental lives, white lives and soFreedom top on. In short, all lives matter or should matter – not just black ones. It might be that what they really mean is that ‘black lives matter too’ because they don’t believe black people get a fair deal right now.

Veering off the subject slightly, it is amazing to me that society can allow organisations that are distinguished by race or gender. In the UK, we have a Black Police Officers’ Association, an Association of Muslim Police Officers and Women’s organisations of all three of the main political parties, for example. Could we have a White Police Officers Association or Men’s sections of political parties? No? Why not? Simply because White and Men’s would be considered racist and sexist respectively, whereas the Black, Muslim and Women’s groups are seemingly acceptable.

Well, at the risk of utter condemnation from those who disagree, I consider those ‘acceptable’ groups to be just as racist and sexist as the others. And society in general is being hypocritical in allowing such organisations to exist.

 

Main photo: Firefighters’ memorial at 9/11 Memorial.

Middle: Two pools mark the former locations of the Twin Towers, with names of those who died on their surrounds.

Bottom: Freedom Tower, the new 1 World Trade Centre.

All pictures: Ian Franks, December 2014.

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Did you miss out? A week of posts from 50 shades

Did you miss any of these posts from the last week? Is so, be sure to check them out now!

 

Could Sanders win like Corbyn?

http://50shadesofsun.com/2015/10/06/could-sanders-win-like-corbyn/

Free rugby at theatre

http://50shadesofsun.com/2015/10/05/free-rugby-at-theatre/

Showing we care

http://50shadesofsun.com/2015/10/04/showing-we-care/

Loving, dedicated and intelligent guide dogs need support

http://50shadesofsun.com/2015/10/02/loving-dedicated-and-intelligent-guide-dogs-need-support/

Ambulance targets ditched for 90% of emergency calls

http://50shadesofsun.com/2015/10/02/ambulance-targets-ditched-for-90-of-emergency-calls/

Burlesque to be weekend of fun

http://50shadesofsun.com/2015/10/01/burlesque-to-be-weekend-of-fun-for-all/

Execution stayed – Beyond reasonable doubt? Really?

http://50shadesofsun.com/2015/09/30/beyond-reasonable-doubt-really/

D-day: MS diagnosed

http://50shadesofsun.com/d-day-ms-diagnosed/

 

 

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Could Sanders win like Corbyn?

bernie sandersJeremy Corbyn new

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senator Bernie Sanders (left) and Jeremy Corbyn MP

Now the new leader of the UK’s Labour Party might not seem in any way connected to a hopeful campaigning to win the US’s Democratic Party nomination as its candidate for the Presidency but there are striking similarities.

Eventual winner of the Labour Party leadership election was, as of course we all know, Jeremy Corbyn. The guy struggled to get onto the ballot paper as not enough MPs supported him. In fact, he made it with only five minutes to go before nominations closed. And then only because some MPs who did not support him, and subsequently did not vote for him, decided to nominate him so that his arguments could be heard.

And heard they were, leading to the outsider, the maverick who has often rebelled and refused to vote as instructed by party whips, being elected with an amazing 59.5% of the votes cast. He won the majority of votes of trade unionists, full members and party supporters. But not the majority of MPs, those he now has to lead in parliament.

Those MPs who nominated him but never actually supported Corbyn or his policies must now regret their actions. He was not supposed to win; he was almost a joke candidate. But his left-wing old Labour message rang true with so many and he quickly became regarded as the most authentic of the four candidates – which is why the pro-Corbyn landslide crushed the other three candidates.

In America, the fight to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the November 2016 election for the office of President is well under way. In the early stages, this was dominated by Hillary Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton. Of course, since being First Lady she has been a Senator, a contender for being the party candidate eight years ago when she lost to Obama, and then served as his Secretary of State during his first term in the White House.

Since enjoying a great start, out of nowhere came competition in the form of a left wing senator from Vermont. Bernie Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist (a word that was once labelled its owner as being un-American and untrustworthy). Now, though, it is Hillary’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State that is leading to her being widely considered the one who cannot be trusted.

While Sander’s policies may be different to Corbyn’s, although some may be quite familiar, his campaign message resonates with those that distrust the establishment and want a new way. Labour high-ups did not want Corbyn and Democratic chiefs don’t want Sanders.

This may be because both Corbyn and Sanders seem to be advocating a new kind of politics and it is this that appears to have caught the imagination of voters. Sanders is now the front runner in both New Hampshire and Iowa, two states that in January will choose whom they support. His fundraising is now at the same level as Clinton’s, he has energised a great deal of support among the young as well as the traditionally disaffected.

Corbyn has also tapped into this pool of support – with the Labour Party’s membership growing by 50,000 in the first week after his election. That is an increase of more than 16% and is still growing.

Could Jeremy Corbyn’s dramatic win in the UK be an indication that Bernie Sanders will be the Democrat candidate for the Presidency?

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Free rugby at theatre

theatr 1

Rugby Union fans around the globe are avidly following the fortunes of the various nations in the Rugby World Cup, especially if one of the teams is from their own country.

The group stages end this coming weekend, then the last eight teams go into the knockout stages.

Embarrassingly for this time’s host nation England, its team has become the first in the competition’s history not to qualify for those knockout stages. Yes, with one group game still to play, England knows it cannot reach the quarter-finals. It will be playing Uruguay purely for the honour of winning.

The England team’s fate was decided by losing successive matches to Wales and Australia, both at England’s home ground of Twickenham, over the last week.

It means that Wales face Australia this Saturday to decide the winner and runner-up of group A. This is important as the winner will face the runner-up of group B, likely to be Scotland, while the runner-up will play the winner of group B, almost certainly South Africa.

So, it is great to see that North Wales rugby fans are being given to watch this key match live at Theatr Colwyn. And when I say ‘given’ I mean just that. There will be no charge. It is a tremendous community benefit provided by theatre management.

It is an example of extremely forward thinking by a really progressive management team that deserves to see its theatre packed out.

Actually, Theatre Colwyn is getting used to capacity audiences. As well as live theatrical performances, its progamme includes films as well as live screenings of major live performances elsewhere.

For example, the National Theatre’s production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch. This has proved to be in so much demand that the live screening is sold out and the theatre has now announced that it will be having what it calls an ‘encore’ screening on another evening. This is its term for showing of a recording made in Theatr Colwyn of the live performance.

And it is made possible by the installation of a hi-tech, state of the art, digital projector a couple of years, or so, ago.

So, rugby fans will be able to see all the action on Saturday evening on a cinema-sized screen, presented using digital equipment for the very best in both visual and sound quality. That will be a real treat for anyone unable to travel to see the match itself.

Theatr Colwyn, alongside its bigger ‘sister’ Venue Cymru, is owned by the local authority – Conwy County Borough Council. However, to the credit of the councillors, it does not seem to have its ambitions curtailed by excessive amounts of red tape.

As well as being a theatre and cinema, it is also the home of Oriel Colwyn, a gallery that has a continuous variety of exhibitions of art and photography. It is a delightful place to see and often welcomes visitors from around the world. So, wherever in the world you live, if you find yourself in the seaside town of Colwyn Bay do drop in. You will be assured of a warm welcome by manager Philip and his team.

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Showing we care

world animal day_edited

Not quite sure why but World Animal Day crept up on me; maybe it was the careful stealth of its approach – like a cat stalking its prey.

Anyway, here it is. Today, 4th October, is World Animal Day, chosen because it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Perhaps we should remember, too, that the Pope chose Francis as his name in honour of St Francis.

So, why do we have a world day for animals? In short, to get people involved in getting a better future for animals.

The lives of animals are profoundly affected by the actions of individuals, businesses, and nations.  It’s therefore essential that, as sentient beings, their rightful status as recipients of social justice is established and translated into effective animal protection.

And it is at this point that I feel it is necessary to state my utter distaste for the recent comments made by Princess Michael of Kent when she said that animals do not have “rights” because they cannot pay taxes.

WAD-horse-2_editedSpeaking at a literary festival in the UK, she said: “We’re always hearing about animal rights. Well, I’m a great animal lover, and involved in a lot of conservation, but animals don’t have rights. They don’t have bank accounts, they don’t vote.

“We have an obligation to animals but to say they have rights? You only have rights if you pay your taxes. You earn your rights.”

As a self-professed animal lover who once hand-reared a cheetah, Princess Michael seems to have missed the point. She is saying that as animals cannot do certain human things, they cannot enjoy the same rights as we do. But they surely do have animal rights; they are sentient creatures and they need to be cared for with kindness and fairness as well as being provided with all they need.

World Animal Day organisers say: “Through increased awareness and education, we can help develop a compassionate culture which feeds into legal reform and social progress to make this world a fairer place for all living creatures.  A world where animals are recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.

Hopefully, increased awareness linked with better education, for both adults and children, will gradually but steadily WAD-fox-2_editedinfluence attitudes of people towards treating animals in the humane and compassionate way in which they deserve and to which they have a right.

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*As writer of this blog, it is necessary to make it clear that I am in favour of the humane treatment of all animals but am not a vegetarian. I have years of experience in agricultural journalism and believe that animal farming for the provision of meat can be carried out with compassion and kind treatment. I am, however, opposed to the killing of any animals for their skins, furs or any other parts. Similarly, I reject the need for the use of animals in laboratory testing of cosmetics or any other product developed for mankind. There may be justification for limited animal use in the field of medicinal research.

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Guide Dogs Week – still time for your support

guide dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guide Dogs are valued around the world. This one is working in Brazil.

GUIDE DOGS Week, halfway through

Service or assistance dogs, those wonderfully intelligent and friendly creatures, are known throughout the world for their dedication to their owners. They can be hearing dogs, guide dogs or provide another form of invaluable help.

Well, today (Wednesday) is the halfway point of Guide Dogs Week in the UK and it runs until the 11th. The Guide Dogs for the Blind charity is encouraging people to Stand Out for Guide Dogs, part of which is to take a photograph of yourself highlighted in neon paint. It is fun and looks impressive.

The charity says: “We will not rest until people who are blind or partially sighted can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

“Every hour another person in the UK goes blind. We need your help to make sure that when someone loses their sight they don’t lose their freedom as well.”

During Guide Dogs Week you can help change more lives and create more partnerships. I urge you to do all that you can to help this great cause.

Many years ago, I was a member of a young men’s service organisation called Round Table. Our chosen charity that year was the Guide Dogs and through effort and determination we raised enough to pay for the training of a dog.

A few years later, I found myself volunteering as an adult leader in the Scouts. Our cub pack was raising money for the same charity and was successful enough to be able to choose a name for a dog. We held our meetings in the church hall, so we named her after the saint of the church.

In the last couple of weeks, twice these fantastic animals have caused me to think of their bravery and commitment to the task they have been expertly trained to carry out.

The first was an incident in which a taxi driver reversed his vehicle onto a pavement (sidewalk in the US) and into a young, newly trained guide dog and her owner. The fact that the pavement was in use seemed not to bother him and the car did not stop until the blind man realised what was happening and tapped on it with his cane.

Police were called but no action is being taken against the driver who has said he is going to claim damages from the blind person for denting the taxi. That is ridiculous, isn’t it? Luckily, the dog only suffered bruising but we don’t yet know if her training will be enough to overcome the shock of the incident.

The second dog is Lara, a yellow Labrador. After just four years’ service, she has been found to be suffering from a birth defect that could not be discovered at an early stage and so she needs help. Her female owner decided to retire her in March this year and, speaking to her just the other day, I asked when she can get a new guide dog. I thought that she would have a new guide living alongside the retired one.

lara2In fact, she won’t have another guide dog while Lara is still with her. Her words brought tears to my eyes.

“My mobility had to come second to her needs.. I am waiting until Lara is no longer with us, wouldn’t be fair, she has a lot of needs so she has to come first.

“I wouldn’t have had it any other way, she took care of me for nearly four years, kept me safe. Now it’s my turn to take care of her and give her the best life I can with the huge restrictions she has. Sadly her working life was very short, she was an amazing guide dog, so intelligent she qualified early, best in her year. She’s a very spoilt lady now!”

And repaying Lara’s dedication and service with such love means that this woman is once again getting about using a white cane.

Such a two-way bond of love and trust is just beyond words.

 

Retired Guide Dog Lara enjoying the sofa.

 

  • You can find Lara’s owner on Twitter @barefoot&paws

 

 

 

 

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Ambulance targets ditched for 90% of emergency calls

ambulance colours

If you have a target that you fail to achieve year after year, there is a simple answer. Just tear up the rules and start again.

It’s what is sometimes called ‘moving the goalposts’ – and there really is no better description.

Ambulances have target response times, not just where you live but almost everywhere. In Wales, UK, the target is to reach 65% of emergency incidents in eight minutes. But, after seven consecutive months of improving to 61.7% – so target was still missed – in August the success rate fell to 58.8%. The September figure is not yet available.

So, now a new system for dealing with emergency 999 calls for ambulances in Wales has come into force and response time targets will be scrapped for all but life-threatening cases during a one-year trial.

Calls will now be graded and it is estimated only 10% of the 420,000 ambulance emergencies a year will be coded “red” for the most critical.

Welsh Ambulance Service chief executive Tracy Myhill tried to put some spin on the slackening of the targets by saying that the new system was based on clinical evidence and put the sickest patients first.

Under the new system, emergency telephone operators will assess how serious each incident is and despatch ambulances in the order of severity and according to predetermined classifications which are colour-coded like traffic lights.

Life-threatening emergencies are the top priority, coloured red – and it is only this group, the estimated 10%, to which the eight minute response time target still applies.

In the United States there are no official Federal or State standards for response times but they often do appear in contracts between communities and Emergency Medical Service providers.

This has led to considerable variations between standards in one community and another. New York City, for example, has a 10-minute response requirement on emergency calls, while other places have response time standards of up to 15 minutes.

It seems to be generally accepted within the emergency services field that an ‘ideal’ response time would be within eight minutes for 90% of calls but this objective is rarely achieved and current thinking questions whether or not that standard has ever been valid’.

As call volumes increase and resources and funding fails to keep pace with the growing demand, even large ambulance services find that they have difficulty in meeting the standards. So Wales is definitely not alone.

Whether it is right to change the rules and take 90% of emergency calls outside any response time target, however, is open to question.

I suppose that we will just have to wait and see how the new system works – or doesn’t.

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