Friday, 29 March 2013

Need to be rescued? We take Visa or Mastercard

I did something today that I've done very infrequently...but I don't want to talk about that!
Instead, I want to talk about the fact that I've gone and sent an e-mail to my MP.
'Why', I hear you cry, 'would you bother doing that? You know that all you'll get back is a pointless, non-committal response full of worthless re-assurances and false platitudes, written by your MP's secretary's secretary's daughter.'
True, I'm not expecting anything ground-breaking by way of a response...but I am expecting a response nonetheless.
But a response to what?
Well, it's all to do with big yellow helicopters, just like the one I was lucky enough to get a ride in on 28th December 2008 when I happened to fall over on some ice on Glaramara can see the result in the x-ray!

The dark line across the bone just above the ankle joint - that's where it went snap!

Anyway, thanks to those fine chaps in the big yellow helicopter, I was lifted off a very, very cold mountain to nice warm A&E department in less than the time it takes an x-ray operative to look at an x-ray, pop her head round from behind her protective screen and just say 'Ouch!'
The A&E department was at Furness General in Barrow (a bitch of a place to get to from Seathwaite where the car was parked, as Wendy, Ged and Lucy found out!) - I guess, with hindsight, I should be thankful that I was only at Furness General for a broken leg and not to give birth, but that's another story and I am digressing.

The worry I have about the big yellow helicopters is that should I ever need to be rescued off a chilly mountain in a few years time (heaven forbid), rather than the winchman coming to me with a bottle of oxygen and a vacuum splint, he'll come instead with a card machine and confirmation that, in order to pay for my rescue, I will either need to produce evidence of current 'Mountain Rescue Insurance' (courtesy of Churchill (oh yes), Direct Line or the like) or I'll have to be able to provide them with a Visa or Mastercard (they'll no doubt take either!).
Of course, no-one in government is mentioning anything like this as part of the announcement about Bristow winning the £1.6billion contract to operate the UK's Search and Rescue service for 10 years from 2017, oh no; Ministers are instead focusing on the fact that all the ageing Royal Navy and RAF Sea-King helicopters are going to be replaced by shiny new Sikorsky ones which will get to us quicker when we get into difficulties.
But how long, I ask myself, before Bristow's come back saying that they just can't make any money out of trying to keep people alive and that, if someone doesn't find more money from somewhere, well, they might start finding that people can't be rescued as quickly as they need to be...
And what happens when someone needs rescuing from the summit of Snowdon in a snowstorm (as happened last week, though I do believe those particular 'hillwalkers' should be publicly flogged for being fucking idiots!) and Bristow refuse to send their helicopter up because their health and safety risk assessment has deemed the risks to their pilots to be too great?

Such questions I have posed to Mr Jake Berry (yes, I do know who my MP is because he writes to me every now and again and recently invited me for tea and biscuits at the Methodist Church!).
Let's see what he says, shall we...and then let's see whether I'm saying 'I told you so' in a few years time.