Thursday, 23 August 2007

The Isle of Right

This year the family holiday was to the Isle of Wight. We had a day trip there a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it and as our kids are still young (3 & 6, neither with passports) it seemed a good choice.

Shame about the weather.

Sunday was nice, Monday was superb. Everyone knew the weather was due to break and were making the most of it. The beaches were busy. Blackgang Chine on the South Coast reported 3,500 people through the door. We went the next day.

I'm pretty certain that the staff outnumbered us that day. As it is on the clifftops, it is totally exposed to the elements. However, with the Isle of Wight being as far South as you can get, it was actually OK. The kids wore raincoats. I don't feel the cold so I had a jumper and an umbrella to keep me dry but overall we had a very good day. No queueing, rides for as long as we wanted without returning to the back of the queue and an empty restaurant.

Whether it was feeling like Royalty - opening the park especially for us - or the Dunkirk spirit kicking in I don't know, but it is possible to enjoy yourself in adverse weather in the UK and even benefit from the experience. If you are planning a trip and the bad weather kicks in at the last minute, my suggestion is to go for it. You'll enjoy it, you won't be harassed or jostled and you should feel good by the end of it. But then again, I'm an ex-Morris dancer so am used to 'the Show Must go On' whatever the weather.

Now, the Needles. Don't get me started. I'll tell you about that later...

Monday, 6 August 2007

Foot and mouth - mushroom management

Once again, Britain has an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease although, as I write, the current thinking is that there may have been a leak from a vaccine manufacturer - BBC report.

In our garden we have a problem with toadstools. There is a clear path along the grass showing the route that the spores have taken. My efforts to remove them started off with half-heartedly picking them. This was to no avail as they just grew back. Secondly, I made a concerted effort one year to pick them as they popped their grey heads up. This resulted in a lot of toadstools in the bin but next year they were all back again.

Last year and this, I have bitten the bullet and each time some cropped up I dug them out, complete with the grass down to 3-4 inches and with a 2-3 inch exclusion zone around the patch.

Although this year they are still growing where I haven't dug and I am repeating the exercise, the areas where they were dug out, apart from the odd one have been totally toadstool free.
The areas are actually better off as I planted with new grass seed, which is thriving.

All this has parallels with the F&M outbreak. Last time around, there was a lot of mushroom management by the Government and a very belated approach. It culled wherever there was an outbreak, but failed to stop mini-outbreaks and it was only eventually that a mass slaughter was ordered to try and contain it. The result was the devastation of many farmers' livelihoods, and enduring images of cattle funeral pyres across the country.

This time around, it seems to have learnt and, like my toadstool problem, is starting with a ring of steel and moving in, rather than micromanagement of each pocket of cases, moving the ring out each time. I almost feel a twinge of sympathy for Gordon Brown. He's photographed on his patriotic holiday in the South West yet less than 5 hours later his holiday is over as he's off to London to chair COBRA - the committee set up to manage it.

Shows across the Country and cattle farmers have all been affected again, but let us all hope that the Government has learnt its lesson from last time. I do feel that the current Prime Minister will handle it somewhat better than his predecessor - someone who definitely subscribed to the Mushroom Management cookbook.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Community Responders - what are they?

Something I'll come back to again. A Community Responder is a volunteer managed by the Ambulance Service in his or her area. He or she will go to serious (life threatening) calls taken by Ambulance Control. "So what's the point of that? We have Ambulances. That's why we pay taxes" I hear you cry.

Well...Yes we do have Ambulances, but not one at every street corner. Where I live, for example (a good sized Town), there is one plus a Rapid Response vehicle. We're near the motorway and one accident there, or one serious incident in Town will leave us potentially uncovered - or at least covered by a vehicle several miles away. Our local Accident and Emergency hospital is not local - it's a 20-30 minute drive away at the best of time. If it gets backed up, the ambulances cannot unload, so are not free to respond.

Now, if you are having a Stroke or the start of a heart attack, you need treatment asap and one of the best treatments is Oxygen. If you are having a Cardiac Arrest (when your heart stops) you also need a defibrillator and you need it now. Realistically, if you have a Cardiac Arrest, you need defibrillating the sooner the better, but within 4-5 minutes to stand any chance of a decent recovery.

Enter the Community Responder. The Responder lives or works locally, will go mobile the same time as a crew and will try to legally (no flashing lights, no speeding, no privileges) get there before the crew and commence treatment. Minutes and seconds can mean life or death to a patient, or at least a better chance of a full recovery.

So what does this have to do with British Visitor? Well, whether you are a local or a Tourist, should you call 999 for an ambulance, it is possible that you get a Community Responder first. He or she will always be followed by an Ambulance and are fully trained in the use of Oxygen and a defibrillator. It's not a 'dumbing down' of the service, it is an add-on, a supplement to the normal course of treatment. In Tourist-centric areas they are kept very busy during the summer months.

If you want to know more, click on the link on the left. If you use the Contact form to contact the scheme, it will come through to me and I will endeavour to answer any questions that you may have.

This has been a Public Service Broadcast on behalf of the Responder Party.