Friday, 12 April 2013

Fantastic news from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service (NHSBT) this week, with organ donations increasing by 50% over the last five years. East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is fully supportive of blood and organ donation, as we know only too well that those we sometimes rescue from fires or road traffic collisions require the significant blood transfusions or organ donations.

Sadly, three people die each day waiting for an organ to be donated and there are over 7,000 people on the waiting list. We know that some communities groups are less likely to donate blood or organs but there are often no religious or faith reasons not to donate and we must do all we can to support the work of NHSBT, as they save lives every single day.

This week the news has been dominated by the passing away of Baroness Thatcher or ‘Maggie’, as our first woman Prime Minister was known. A dominant force in politics for two decades, there is no doubt that Margaret Thatcher left a legacy that would seem from the media reports to have divided many. I know that my mum who was a strong trade unionist argued against the policies that were introduced in the 1980s and I recall many interesting debates taking place with both my parents and their friends about the changing industrial landscape.

I have listened to a number of comments about the changes brought about by the Thatcher led governments, often by people who were not even born when the shift in politics was taking place, who may find it interesting to look at the late 1960s and early 1970s and how the economy of this country was doing and compare the differences today, and then make their comments from a more informed position.

The world was very different in the 1970s when I first started work and one thing that certainly was not about was social media. That certainly came to haunt Paris Brown, the 17- year-old who was appointed as the Kent Youth Crime Commissioner, due to offensive tweets Paris had made when she was aged between 14 and 16. 

Now whilst I don't intend to comment on whatever Paris tweeted when she was a young teenager, I must admit to having made many mistakes and errors of judgement when I was a young teenager, it was simply the 'passage of youth'. However, it does appear we are very harsh to pass judgement and that we should also recognise compassion, forgiveness, understanding and tolerance are the hallmarks of a civilised society.

My Week
  • Met with colleagues from College of Policing and NHS to discuss joint leadership training programmes. We have now run two programmes with leaders from across the three sectors and these have been very well received. The delegates have looked at 'the ageing society' and how we need to structure our service delivery to meet the increasing needs of an elderly population.

  • Went to see the Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed Institute for Continuous Improvement in the Public Sector ICiPS, a new body supported by the Cabinet Office. We discussed opportunities to work more closely with them to deliver greater effectiveness in the public sector

  • Update with the Chairman Cllr. Livings to discuss the project for our new fire station in Newhaven. The Chairman is keen for the site to be used with partners, including Lewes District Council and others who have expressed an interest in using our site, but we have to ensure we have a fully functional fire station to meet ESFRS and local community needs and start building later this year.

  • Had a meeting with the procurement team at headquarters as I have now taken over this reference along with finance following the retirement of Diana Williams. We discussed strategic procurement, tendering and systems for monitoring; as of 1st April, Assistance Chief Officer (ACO) Rolph will be responsible for democratic services and Deputy Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Walsh will be responsible for performance management

  • Went to the Fire Service College (FSC) to speak with the Executive Leadership Programme students. They are in their 3rd module and are working on case studies of what it is like to lead a Fire and Rescue Service, looking at the political complexities and how to lead when the future is uncertain - quite a challenge, but exciting and stimulating.

  • Spoke with the new owners of the FSC as to their initial plans for developing the business. They have already invested in a refurbishment and building programme and are looking at new markets to generate the income to make the FSC financially stable and sustainable; optimism abounds!

  • Went to a Health & Safety Conference and gave a presentation on Marlie Farm but focused my presentation on what it was like as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) to have to deal with the emotions of such an incident. I found the presentation one of the most difficult I have ever made but got really good feedback from delegates who wanted to hear the personal aspects of such an incident.

  • Discussed with the County Council the options for financial and exchequer services as our current contract has run out. We currently outsource these services as we would not be able to run these services 'in-house' as they would be too costly and we must have a new contract in place. Positive discussion which will now be taken forward by our Treasurer Duncan Savage.

  • Fire Authority meetings on Thursday where we had a Scrutiny & Audit Panel and a Policy & Resources Panel. It is a strange time as it is only three weeks until the local elections when we will have a number of new members on the Fire Authority as six of our current Councillors will be standing down and we will see a much changed Fire Authority come the June AGM.

  • Conference call with the branding consultants working for Capita at the Fire Service College, as they have to change the existing badge and logo, as this belongs to Government. They have come up with a number of designs and we discussed options not only for what the brand will look like but whether there is a need to amend the name of the Fire Service College.

This week firefighters from Newhaven responded to a fire in the early hours of the morning at a ground floor flat in Peacehaven. Crews found a well-developed fire which they fought with four breathing apparatus (BA) and two hose reels. The fire investigation team called in the hydrocarbon detector dog from Surrey with their initial finding indicating that the fire was of deliberate origin.

Crews from Broad Oak supported by the specialist animal rescue team from Crowborough responded to an incident where a cow had become stuck in a muddy field near Beckley. The conditions were extremely difficult with firefighters using a rescue path to gain access and then with the advice of a vet, started to dig the cow free and then using the using lines and the winching gear succeeded in rescuing the animal.

Firefighters from Eastbourne supported by crews from Pevensey responded to a 'persons reported' call in the Seaside area of the town. Crews in BA and using Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) and a hose reel ensured everyone was out of the property and quickly got the fire under control. Fire crews responded to a serious incident at Vines Cross early on Thursday morning rescuing one elderly male from the property. Ambulance crews attended the scene taking the casualty immediately to hospital to receive emergency treatment.

What a difference a few degrees make, a bit of sun and the south coast comes to life. Is this the first shoots of summer and can I get the shorts out? It's looking bright for the Super Blues and I'm looking forward to a day out at Wembley on Sunday; for all those Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool fans, that's a place where all the good teams get to play and for rest, keep dreaming although with a bit of luck the Seagulls will get their day out in the play-offs.

For all of those who have no interest in football, there's always The Voice and Britain's Got Talent, both which I think are complete drivel but that's a minority view in my house and I get banished and have to watch the footy on my laptop - so unfair!

Well done to Mark Matthews who managed to secure his release from behind bars by raising sufficient bail all in the interest of good causes. Some did say they would have paid more if only they would have kept Mark locked up and good luck to Gaby Stace who will soon be tracking across the desert in Jordan to raise much needed funds in support of leukaemia and lymphoma; you can still donate on Gaby's 'justgiving' page as every extra bit of money will help this very worthy cause.