Doctor's grim warnings on amputations

A LEADING doctor has warned amputations may be necessary to free road accident victims from wreckages due to the limited cutting equipment of Green Goddesses.

A LEADING doctor has warned amputations may be necessary to free road accident victims from wreckages due to the limited cutting equipment of Green Goddesses.

Dr Andy Mason, of the Suffolk Accident and Rescue Service, has 29 years experience of road traffic accidents and is concerned about working without the fire service.

His warning came as the Strategic Health Authority covering Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire pleaded with motorists across East Anglia – which has one of the highest road death figures in the country – to take extra care during the strikes.

There will be just one specially-trained RAF crew for each county, with specialised equipment to free motorists.

Dr Mason said: "We may have to revert back to the old methods of perhaps having to amputate a limb to free a person. It could lead to that if there was no extricating

equipment and the person was in need of urgent hospital treatment. It would not be a pleasant thing for anyone."

Most Read

Only last month Dr Mason was called to an accident on the Haughley Bends on the A14 when four passengers, all in their 70s, were trapped after a smash.

The importance of freeing trapped persons within an hour is vital and Dr Mason believes the advances in extrication techniques have helped save scores of lives.

He said: "We talk about the golden hour and with seriously injured patients we aim to get them definitive treatment – that is into hospital – within the first hour.

"It doesn't bear thinking about what would happen if we couldn't get them out because I would hate to think there was someone trapped who we couldn't release."

For Dr Mason, the strike could not have come at a worse time of year as the weather deteriorates.

He said: "When the weather gets worse there are often more accidents, but people are maybe travelling a bit slower so they are not so severe."

Dr Mason, who has no experience of working with the Green Goddesses, added: "I work very closely with the fire service and I have got great respect for them and they must do what they must do. But I am very concerned about the possible consequences.

"It's going to be a completely new experience for me. I have been thinking about it very much and I am very concerned about the implications, particularly in my field of work."

Dr Mason, who covers the West Suffolk area, expects the retained fire services – with their modern equipment – to be of great benefit during the strikes.

"Without them it would be a disaster situation," he said.

At the SHA, Tony Jewell, director of public health and clinical services said: "Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire already have one of the worst road death records in the country. On the days of the fire dispute stoppages, while we are laying on extra mobile medical teams to reach road

victims much more quickly, other resources will be stretched.

"Given the rural and wide geographical spread in our area, getting the right facilities into place at the right time is going to be a challenge.

"The greatest action that can be taken to help reduce the terrible carnage that takes place on our roads is for motorists to really check their speed and drive more carefully.

"This is especially true during the one-day strikes and I hope the additional risk that motorists face during the dispute will help them reflect on their driving habits all year round as well."

Deputy prime minister John Prescott yesterday attacked the strikes as completely unjustified and said the unions' 40 per cent pay claim was indefensible.

Mr Prescott and fire service minister Nick Raynsford were today launching a new fire safety campaign to hammer home the message that in the event of a fire homeowners should get out and stay out of their properties and call 999. The campaign will feature radio and TV warnings plus maildrops to millions of households and businesses. The government's hardline stance appeared to make firefighters more determined to go on strike and the mood of fire crews across the country was described as very strong. The FBU Executive was meeting later today, but no last-minute breakthrough was expected.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter