/ NEWS: 'New Era' in Search and Rescue Announced

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UKH News - on 28 Nov 2011
Sea King over Napes, Lake District, 2 kbSearch and rescue as we know it will soon be a thing of the past as the Government today announced the long-anticipated privatisation of helicopter services in the UK. This means the end of RAF and Royal Navy involvement in search and rescue, and the scrapping of the ageing fleet of Sea King helicopters

Read more at http://www.ukhillwalking.com/news/item.php?id=65226
Neil Pratt - on 28 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

Was there any detail provided about the nature of the service to be provided to civilian rescue services such as the MRT, and whether there would be any cost implication?

I might be being overly pessimistic, but it's hard to read about this significant change without wondering about all the calls over the years for outdoor users to have insurance...
Matt Pycroft - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to Ditch_Jockey:
"I might be being overly pessimistic, but it's hard to read about this significant change without wondering about all the calls over the years for outdoor users to have insurance..."

My thoughts exactly. I may have missed something, but I don't see how a profit based company will be providing an entirely free service to outdoor users in need.

The concern I have about insurance would be that it surely can't be compulsory? I was a student for around 6 years, and could barely afford car insurance etc let alone 'outdoor insurance'. What would happen if I were to take a tumble and need air lifting?

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

TheAndyBarker - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

RIP.. a great loss of a phenomenal service, provided by dedicated, well trained, incredibly brave crews.

Never mind the insurance, it's the Health and Safety we should be concerned about. Military crews will push all possible limits to get to a customer, but will a service operated by a private company, deliver the same results in marginal conditions..? Only if the risk assessment allows I guess.

If we (the government) would only bite the bullet and provide the forces with a new aircraft, I'm sure the crews would be able to carry on the good work for another 50 yrs.. I'd certainly rather pay for the helicopters through my tax than the huge bill I've just had for Northern Rock.. especially when the cheeky bastards can still afford to sponsor a football team.

Makes me sick. At least there'll be some more jobs for ex aircrew to fill when they are made redundant.

Thanks and well done lads and lasses... You'll be sadly missed.
Thoms6974 - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

So what's the difference between range and endurance then?
Dan-gerMouse on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to TheAndyBarker:

Having had two friends rescued by sea kings over the years, I have an enormous amount of respect for the work they do. (I would add that I was in the same location and came to thier aid, but was not climbing with them.)

This debate links into larger question about the 'phsyche' of those going out on the hill. There appears to be a band of poorly informed, inadequately skilled hill goers who are also willing to push thier own limits...putting the air crews in jeopardy. Should we really be asking members of air crews to put thier lives at risk for these people?

I feel positive about the change in many respects, it will make people think critically before they make decisions, go out on the hill equipped with the right gear and skills. A payment system has been working the alps for decades and insurance from the Austrian alpine club for example is only £30 per year. The BMC might take up this position in the UK?

For me, I would rather see soldiers on the front line properly equipped and safeguarded (irrespective of whether or not we should be in the middle east in the first place!) And to pay a small amount per year and make the right decisions using my skills and judgement out on the hills.
Dan-gerMouse on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to Thoms6974:
range is the distance they can travel from base
endurance is the time they can stay away from base (eg. multiple attempts at a rescue without needing to refuel.)

they are basically a different interpretation of fuel capacity vs use.
arctic_hobo - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

this is f*cking terrible news. It's not 'health and safety' that will be the problem (even the forces have that & for good reason) but profit margins. Why would they rescue somebody if it will take multiple attempts in whiteout conditions? In some cases the answer will be they won't, it's too expensive. And even if they are paid per journey ie there is no profit motive to ignore tricky calls, there is still the point that it's more profitable to do it with the minimum staff, in the cheapest aircraft, with the minimum fuel, and so on. Profit motives, as we've seen in the US with healthcare and in this country with trains and so on, have led to massive skimping. If you can get the job done to meet a 'target' for less money, then they'll do it. I shudder to think of the impact on people's lives and as others have said the possibility that personal insurance might become necessary.
same auld f*cking tories.
jonny taylor on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

Not good. Can anyone point to a map of which bases they intend to keep, flying times etc, or is that still to be determined?
neilh - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

Difficult one. I hardly think this being privatised is going to raise mass public opposition, particularly when certain public sectors which are more important are faced with cuts.

I see a pretty sophisticated and superb service in the Alps, all funded by insurance etc, so irrespective of the UK historical context..the question needs to be asked......why not here?

Andyh83 on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News: Small points, but points none the less:

As stated earlier, we in the forces love to ignore rules to maintain our "can do" ethic. (just have a look at our successes abroad whilst undermanned, underfunded and undermined by the last government)
Will those working for a private company be able to do this?

Also, the drafts to S&R units provide "broadening billets" for our aircrew and pilots. This improves their skill level and also allows a change of pace from the "front line operations" that everyone assumes we must want to be deployed on 365 days a year. If you are a temporarily jaded pilot with no option other than yet another Afghanistan tour, then you will simply leave.

It maintains a broader footprint in the UK allowing people the option of a draft closer to an area of their choice (Without S&R the Fleet Air Arm will pretty much exist only in Somerset in a few years)

S&R provides vital PR for the military. What could be a better advert than a great big, brightly coloured helicopter saving peoples lives... for FREE.

The military has pilots, aircrew, AET's, aircraft handlers, drivers, atc, medics and everyone else needed to operate aircraft already in their employ, necessarily awaiting times of need for warfare. Why not utilise these people on such a worthy cause? ... Still, as with the SERCO maintenace debacle, the private company will simply offer them a small pay rise and they will all leave and work for them instead, leaving another recruiting crisis.

IMHO this is an absolutely terrible idea and smacks of short term cost cutting.

Replace Sea King, give us a cutting edge Fleet Air Arm and watch the savings as the military continue to do what they do without needing to be "profit making"

sorry for rambling.
Robert Durran - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

While I don't think I could complain about paying a reasonable insurance premium, my main cocern is that some people might feel that they have somehow paid for a service and treat it as a taxi service if they are in the slightest difficulty, thus pushing up the premiums for everyone. I get the impression that this already happens to some extent in the Alps.
TheAndyBarker - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to Dan-gerMouse: Dont be too keen to vlunteer troops to the front line.. and dont be too keen to welcome privatisation.. otherwise your mates might not be so lucky next time.. Remember.. alpine rescue is copletely different game and is mostly carried out by the forces.. not private companies. I'd personally have our boys and girls back on our own home front line having been on both in a former life..
Nigel R on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

"If you would like to be rescued from a painful, lingering death from Hypothermia and broken bones, press 1"

Please enter your 16-digit credit card number after the tone.
jonny taylor on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to Andyh83:
> Replace Sea King, give us a cutting edge Fleet Air Arm

Do you know what the military's plan is (I have no idea if that roadmap has been publicly announced). My understanding is that Sea Kings are currently used for combat SAR as well. What is going to happen to them? Are they going to continue as-is, be retired and not replaced, or retired and replaced?
Peter MN - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to TheAndyBarker:
> (In reply to UKH News)

> Never mind the insurance, it's the Health and Safety we should be concerned about. Military crews will push all possible limits to get to a customer, but will a service operated by a private company, deliver the same results in marginal conditions..? Only if the risk assessment allows I guess.
>

Too true. My brother was working on a production facility on the North Sea that dragged its anchors in a storm. The military crews operated a shuttle service flying workers to a nearby facility while the private helicopter operators were unable to fly due to conditions that were "Outside of the operational parameters"
Mike Nolan - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News: Once the Sea King's are scrapped/sold on, who will provide SAR to military operations?
neilstubbs - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to neilh:
(In reply to UKH News)

"particularly when certain public sectors which are more important are faced with cuts."

How much more important than saving peoples lives can you get?!
Michael Gordon - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to neilstubbs:
> (In reply to neilh)
> (In reply to UKH News)
>
> "particularly when certain public sectors which are more important are faced with cuts."
>
> How much more important than saving peoples lives can you get?!

My thoughts exactly. The whole thing is crazy.
Howard Lawledge - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to neilh: I think the Chamonix mountain rescue is government funded. Was certainly free for me.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Taurig - on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:

So if this were to go the way of the privatised rescue services in the Alps, how would it work? Say I have insurance/membership to a club which 'allows' me to be rescued. I ask my mate, who is only an occasional walker and hence does not have insurance/membership, to come along. I break my leg, I get rescued. He breaks his leg, he gets rescued, but is landed with a bill of several thousand pounds? Or can I call them out and get him rescued on my behalf?

All completely speculative I know, but how do these scenarios work in the Alps?
gallthyfryd on 29 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:After 15 years experience of working alongside helicopters from RAF valley,with the R.N.L.I. and some limited experience with private operators on the south coast, it is my understanding that the military helicopters have have a wider operational window than private companies currently can provide.this would seem particularly important in mountain rescue situations where the local higher altitude conditions can bear little relevance to conditions at base,thus the likelihood of a privateer turning back due to 'operational circumstances' as mentioned in a previous mail, would become much more frequent.(and galling for the VOLUNTEER M.R.teams!)Add to this the genuine chance of private operators having far less local knowledge and experience than the BRILLIANT military crews.lets face it, the military will still have to train in the mountains,so why not use their presence to good advantage(the big society mr.cameron),after all we ,the taxpayers,are paying for the helos and their personnel any way.can anyone shed more light on the "operational window"issue,and shouldn't this element of the debate get more coverage,as it seems to be key to the whole issue of saving lives.whether on the mountains ,or at sea,as we all saw occurring off bardsey island this weekend.lets hope we arent hurtling towards a very dangerous world of search and rescue!!!
Stingraypoindex - on 30 Nov 2011
In reply to Andyh83:
> (In reply to UKH News) Small points, but points none the less:
>
> .......

> sorry for rambling.

Tempted to quote your whole post, these aren't small points at all, they're fantastic points and spot on. I presume this announcement will affect offshore SAR also or am i being thick? In conjunction with the closure to coastguard facilities this is surely going to have a massive impact on water users as well?!
Ramon Marin - on 30 Nov 2011
In reply to gallthyfryd:

Very well put
mattwilk - on 30 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:
Thanks go out to the tories for another shafting of the nation!
Atmos on 30 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News: Actually, in the french alps all the rescue are free (I'm french and I just checked). The helicopters are provided by the Gendarmerie Nationale, La sécurité civile, and some private companies, but everything is government founded.

I think it might be a different story in the swiss alps however.
arctic_hobo - on 30 Nov 2011
In reply to UKH News:
there seems to be confusion over the difference between privatisation and private funding.
What appears to be the government's plan here is privatisation - that a private company will do it for a certain amount of money, that comes from the state. They will be paid, usually, from a target-based rationale of what they spend on the work. The danger here is the monetary incentive for the company to skimp on their work and employ untrained skeleton crews, cos it means a bigger profit margin. This can be regulated, of course, and prevented, by law and a cleverer application of targets - but if you really think the Tories are going to put the lives of mountaineers higher up a priority scale than private sector 'efficiency' you can think again.
However, what HASN'T been proposed, but is nonetheless the next logical step to Tories, is private funding through insurance (or donations like the RNLI do). This could mean the state pays nothing to these companies, instead you pay your insurance company a whacking great fee and they pay the company when you get hurt. This would be a truly frightening prospect, as there are several big problems - helicopters etc cost a fortune to run, so insurance premiums will be BIG; the bills, or lack of service, for uninsured people, will be crippling; and the fact that it's to the monetary advantage of your insurer to turn down your claim, so proving that you really needed help might in some cases be difficult.

And some topical comedy to cheer yous all up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLfghLQE3F4
Wendy Anderson - on 01 Dec 2011
In reply to TheAndyBarker: This is really sad, the RAF and Mountain rescue teams do a fab job would a private organisation go the extra mile regardless of the conditions? How can this be logical, how can mountain rescue make a profit? It raises more questions then it answers and is real worry. Is there anyone / organisation fighting this or getting some clear answers? We got a re think on the privatisation of the forestry commission is there hope????

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