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THE HERALD FRIDAYSEPTEMBER 02 2016


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Ambulance response targets hit AMBULANCE response times in


west Wales have once again surpassed the national target time, with an improved performance in the Hywel Dda UHB area in spite of an increase in ‘red calls’ over the previous month. All local health boards attended


more than 65% of ‘red’ calls – those involving an immediately life- threatening illness or injury – within eight minutes. Across Wales 75.3% of responses


to red calls arrived within eight minutes. In the Hywel Dda UHB area, 224 red calls were received in July. This was an increase of 69 over June. However, the number of responses arriving within eight minutes increased from 68% to 71.5%. The median response time to red


calls across Wales was five minutes and five seconds. The service handled 1,277 calls per day on average, up 3.4% on the daily average in June 2016. July was the second successive


month that all LHBs met the national target since the introduction of a new clinical response model pilot last October, which prioritises the most critically-ill patients. Health Secretary,


Vaughan Gething, said: “It is very encouraging to see that all LHBs in Wales have surpassed the national target for red calls for the second consecutive month, despite steadily rising demand. In July, there were over 39,500 emergency calls made to the Welsh


Ambulance Service – an average of 1,277 calls per day. “I want to thank Welsh Ambulance


Service staff for their dedication to providing the help people need quickly, in spite of these pressures. “Today’s statistics show that the


new model we introduced last October is contributing to a rapid emergency response service for patients who really need it. People should feel confident the new system is putting a greater focus on the quality of care people receive and their outcomes. “We have much to be proud of here


in Wales; however, we will not be resting on our laurels. The Welsh Ambulance Service – and the wider health and social care system – is already planning for the coming months and the difficult winter period.” However, Conservative Health


Spokesman Angela Burns AM pointed out that across Wales, the number of emergency responses arriving within target was lower. The Carmarthen West and


Pembrokeshire AM said: “Despite a welcome improvement in last month’s ambulance response times, it is concerning to see a fall this month in the number of emergency calls arriving within target. “Welsh Ambulance staff


face incredibly challenging and stressful circumstances on a daily basis and stress-related illnesses are now responsible


for a higher percentage of absences than ever before. “NHS Staff and paramedics


work hard to reach these targets. It is high time that the Labour-led Welsh Government acknowledge the importance of supporting staff NHS so they can continue to deliver this vital, lifesaving service.”


Power cut hotline welcomed ADAM PRICE AM has


welcomed the new ’105’ power cut hotline to be launched in September that can be used to report or get information about power cuts. The free service will put callers


through to their local electricity network operator where users can also report any welfare concerns relating to a power cut, or to express concerns about the safety of over or underground electricity cables or substations. Carmarthen East and Dinefwr’s


AM, Adam Price, said: “I welcome the launch of this new service on September 6, which will allow consumers to rapidly get in touch with their local electricity network operator and report concerns. “The free service, which can be


reached by dialling 105, will ensure that there is a speedy response to power cuts by electricity network operators, and that consumers are fully integrated into ensuring that their concerns and welfare are provided for.” The 105 service was given the


A SERIES of unusual whale


sightings caught the attention of scientists at marine mammal research facility, Sea Watch Foundation, this past week. Members of the public are


encouraged by the organisation to report any sightings of dolphins, porpoises and whales across the UK. This usually leads to patterns of species being found in areas where they are expected, but there are occasionally exceptions to the rule, thanks to the nature of water-bound species. The recent sightings around Wales serve as an example of that. The long-finned pilot whale is the


species in question, well known due to the exploitation of the mammals during organised drives in the Faroe Islands. These ‘subsidence’ hunts take place annually, and many activists would like to see an end to them. Pilot whales observed in the Faroes may travel along the shelf edge to waters west of the British Isles and beyond, radio-tracking studies have shown. Despite the fact that there are past


records of pilot whales spotted around Wales, it remains an rather unusual occurrence, especially with sightings taking place at four different locations on four separate occasions. The first sighting was made in the


Central Irish Sea, 47 miles out from Aberdyfi in Gwynedd. On August 17,


green light by Ofcom last year, following research that showed most people are unaware that power supply problems should be reported not to their electricity supplier, but to their local ‘electricity network operator’ - one of the companies that collectively run the electricity networks that serve England, Scotland and Wales. This problem was highlighted


during severe storms that affected the UK in the winter of 2013/14. These caused electricity disruptions for 750,000 homes, with telephone calls about the resulting problems peaking at 800,000 in the month of December 2013. Today, each electricity network


operator has its own 11-digit contact number, making it hard for people to know which number to phone to report an incident or seek urgent advice - especially during a power cut, when lights and internet access are often unavailable. This led the Government and ENA to plan a single-number service.


five pilot whales were spotted at this location by Charlie Bartlett, who has been venturing out to sea for 45 years. On Sunday, August 21, the second sighting was made off Eynon Point, Swansea, where a lone pilot whale was reported. On that very same day, a third sighting was reported. Two days later, near between Southerndown and Ogmore-by-Sea in Glamorgan, the final sighting was made. This time, eight animals were spotted by Sea Watch volunteer Keith Burgess. Keith couldn’t be certain of what he was watching at the time of the sighting (11am, Tuesday, August 23). The Sea Watch Foundation team discussed the matter, becoming confident that the animals were indeed long-finned pilot whales. With so many similar reports from


the same time - two of which have been verified - it is certainly plausible that a pod of these whales is moving around the Welsh coast at the moment. Sightings Officer for Sea Watch


Foundation, Kathy James, said: “We’d love people to get out there to look for these enigmatic whales and report any sightings to us. We encourage these ‘casual sightings’ through our website and also welcome people to take part in dedicated watches for whales, dolphins and porpoises around our coast.” Dr Peter Evans, Director of Sea


17 News Unusual whale species spotted


Watch Foundation, said: “Long-finned pilot whales typically live in large groups in deep waters beyond the edge of the continental shelf. Here they feed largely upon oceanic squid. However, occasionally they come into shelf waters around the British Isles from the Atlantic, either in pursuit of squid or shoaling fish. It is likely that an abundance of a particular prey species brought them into Welsh coastal waters on this occasion.”


How to monitor whales around Wales: • Report your sightings at www. seawatchfoundation.org.uk/ sightingsform.


• Stage a dedicated watch at www.seawatchfoundation. org.uk/recording-and- submitting-sightings.


• Get in touch! Email kathy. james@seawatchfoundation. org.uk.


Long-finned pilot whale facts: • Length: Adult females are 4-5.5m. Males grow to 5.5- 6m in length.


• Head: Bulbous head, short, almost imperceptible, beak.


• Fins and coloration: A dark back, a low-swept back fin and long flippers.


• Lifespan: Around 50 years • Diet: Pilot whales seem to feed exclusively on Todarodes (a genera of cephalopods) whereever possible, but if it is unavailable, the diet is supplemented with a range of other prey items including fish and shrimps. In winter, prey species diversity increases whereas fish become more important in summer, especially in the diet of males, although squid still continue to make up the bulk of the food.


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