Sark Newspaper 04 January 2019

10 Some very good news dominated the local media once the New Year had been ushered in. There are plans afoot to set up a locally based pan-island emer- gency helicopter service capable of transporting crit- ically ill Channel Islands’ patients to a UK mainland hospital within an hour of an emergency occurring. Currently such emergency flights are undertaken by a fixed wing aircraft and the process takes an aver- age of four hours due to the plane being dependent on airports and further transport from there. Yes, Guernsey and Jersey have their own excellent hospital facilities, but last year alone there were no less than 30 emergency flights to provide critically ill patients with specialist care not available in the Is- lands. We all want to know that if the worst comes to the worst, no effort will be spared to ensure that life- saving treatment is available to everyone. It is a basic human right which the people of Sark are de- nied. An ideology of division and entrenchment has, inexcusably, been allowed to overshadow compas- sion, common sense and the duty of care shared by those in positions of power. Helicopters have been regarded with deeply embedded hostility and no ef- fort has been spared in making it patently clear that unless it transports royalty or parts for the light- house, no helicopter is welcome in Sark whatever the nature of the emergency. The excuse for this policy has forever been that air- craft, and especially helicopters of course, scare the horses. The validity of this argument is instantly de- stroyed by the fact that there are plenty of horses peacefully grazing right next to Guernsey’s busy runway. Nonetheless, the ‘no helicopter’ policy dictates that a critically ill Sark Islander must wait for the ambu- lance boat and endure the bumpy tractor ride down to the harbour before making the sea crossing to Guernsey, which more likely than not is even more bumpy. Consequently, regardless of how sick or how seriously wounded, a Sark resident can expect a two-hour delay at the very least before reaching Guernsey’s hospital and, if the situation requires specialist treatment they cannot offer, a further four hours before reaching a suitable facility in the UK. The same goes for any visitor falling ill or having an accident. That is no way to treat the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable. That is no way to attract the young fam- ilies that this Island needs to re-build its depleted population, and certainly, it is no way to attract the visitors we so desperately need to revive our tourism- dependent economy. On the say-so of a deeply entrenched and self- appointed ruling elite, Sark has become a place where a critically ill patient is treated in a way in which the average European wouldn’t treat their dog. A place where political point-scoring is more important than avoiding needless suffering and death. A place devoid of compassion. When interviewed by ITV TV News, Air Rescue Channel Islands founder Andrew Scott-Miller high- lighted “ the need to get Is- landers from Alderney to Guernsey 24/7 ”. There is no reason why the same shouldn’t apply to the Is- landers of Sark. He also stressed “ the increased de- mand ” for specialist medical care caused by “ an age- ing population ”, which certainly applies equally, if not more so, in Sark too. Let 2019 be the year when this nonsense comes to an end. Let’s make it clear to Air Rescue Channel Is- lands that Sark has turned a new leaf. That we are in on the project and happy to contribute and coop- erate in every way possible. Not only do we all want the best for our loved ones, ourselves and our fellow man and woman should the worst come to the worst, access to it is a basic human right we must no longer be denied. PROPOSED LIFE-SAVING HELICOPTER SERVICE HIGHLIGHTS FLAGRANT BREACH OF OUR HUMAN RIGHTS Guernsey Press 2nd January 2019 ITV Channel News 2nd January 2019