Special mine rescue team formed to prevent another shaft tragedy as ‘legacy’ of Alison Hume
A LIFE-SAVING rescue team and special training have been introduced as the “legacy” of Alison Hume, who died after firefighters failed to rescue her quickly after a fall down a mine shaft.
The decision to leave the mother-of-two – who had suffered “survivable injuries” after falling 14 metres – because of health and safety concerns led to stinging criticism of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service.
But the Scottish Government yesterday said steps have been taken to make sure firefighters are better prepared in future. These include a specialist rescue team in Strathclyde, and a guarantee that all other services have access to line rescue, either within their own areas or through mutual aid.
New training has been introduced, including “risk critical decision-making”, and a rope rescue centre has been created at Newcraighall near Edinburgh.
The developments have been announced by the Scottish Government in response to an inquiry into Ms Hume’s death by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Authorities, Steven Torrie.
The changes are expected to be continued in the new national service, which will come into force in April, next year.
Roseanna Cunningham, minister for community safety, said: “The chief inspector’s inquiry was a very important piece of work, and a reminder that the death of Alison Hume was a tragedy the likes of which we never want to see repeated, and our thoughts are with Ms Hume’s family and friends.
“The basis of this work was to establish what lessons can be learned and what further action is necessary to ensure as far as possible that this cannot happen again.
“The inquiry sets out several areas for improvement that are already being addressed by the eight existing services, and I am encouraged by the progress that has been made.
“Lessons have, and will continue, to be learned, from a tragic event. Its legacy must be that the capabilities of our excellent fire and rescue crews across Scotland are strengthened, and lasting and positive change is made.”
Alasdair Hay, the new chief fire officer for Scotland, added: “It’s worth noting that the many improvements already delivered across Scotland will be further enhanced with the establishment of a single fire and rescue service.”
Ms Hume, 44, fell down a collapsed shaft in Galston, Ayrshire, while walking home at about midnight in July 2008.
She suffered pneumothorax, broken ribs and a broken sternum. The alarm was raised by her daughter at 2am, but she was not rescued until 7:42am, by which time she was “profoundly hypothermic”.
Sheriff Derek Leslie said the delay in rescuing her was “in conflict with the greater aims of a rescue service”.
Mr Torrie said that a policy to effectively rule out using lines in rescue attempts earlier that year, for reasons of safety was also a key factor.
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