When first aid is more than administering a plaster

On Monday the 16th September 41 year old Mariusz, one of our despatch managers took his mid-morning break which he likes to take back at his staff flat close to the smokery. Luckily for him his partner Anna came back to the flat some time later to discover Mariusz on the kitchen floor, no pulse and not breathing, medically he was dead. Anna immediately called Monika, our head of Human Resources and also one of our first aiders, who was first to arrive at the scene and started to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). You've probably seen the Vinnie Jones television ads - patient on his back and Vinnie bent over the patient advising to push hard on the chest area about two times a second while in the background Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever disco song “Stayin’ Alive” plays. Two more of our first aiders arrive, Mark Romans head of our Quality Assurance team and Sabrinha head of the Factories High Care area. Mark helped take turns with Monika administering CPR, while Sabrinha performed mouth to mouth resuscitation. I have it on good authority that Monika wasn't singing ‘Stayin’ Alive’ but she was desperately asking him to breathe. When the ambulance crew arrived they had managed to get his heart going but the team were so concerned with his condition that they called for the air ambulance helicopter so he could be airlifted directly to the specialist unit at Bristol. The good news is that after being airlifted to Bristol and placed in an induced coma for 2 days miraculously Mariusz made an amazingly quick recovery and was able to leave hospital on the following Sunday with no apparent lasting ill effects. Mariusz probably now needs to make a few lifestyle choices but more importantly realises that he owes his life to the quick reactions of our first aid volunteers, Mark, Monika and Sabrinah. There is nothing worse than that dreadful feeling of not knowing quite what to do when a medical emergency occurs and someone looks to you for help, so I urge anyone that has the opportunity to do a first aid course , sign up now. It’s been a very long time since I did one but I'm going to make sure Mark puts my name down for one the next time a course is done at the factory.

Last month Peter Lapsley died aged 70. To many he would not be a name you are familiar with but Peter was one of Britain’s leading writers on fly-fishing and fly tying and in a career spanning 35 years produced 10 books and hundreds of articles as a columnist for Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine and editor of Flyfishers’ Journal.

As well as works published under his own name he was also the unaccredited co-author of J R Hartley angling books that were published in response to the successful Yellow Pages television campaign in the early ‘80s in which a retired fly fisherman, J R Hartley, attempts to track down a copy of his long out of print volume on the sport. Peter’s publishers had the idea of exploiting the obvious appeal of the ads by publishing a real book by the elderly fictional author and, together with Michael Russell, he was persuaded to produce Fly Fishing by J.R. Hartley and an eventual sequel ‘J. R. Hartley Casts Again’. The books were an amazing success and are thought to have outsold all other books ever produced on the subject of fly-fishing. Angling was only part of Peter’s life and after a successful career in the Army he joined the Ministry of Defence. In the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 he was sent to strengthen the security at the Department of Transport Aviation Division and for 5 years acted as the UK’s chief inspector of aviation security. Retiring in 1996 he became chief executive of the National Eczema Society and patient editor of the British Medical Journal, a role he continued in until his recent death.

The 15th November is the date we have organised for our annual end of year eel release at Llangorse lake near Breacon. It’s a bit like a harvest festival celebrating the end of the year’s eel releases and the success of our Tanks in Schools scheme with one big huge release. We plan to involve Monmouth Boys School as usual and an open invitation is extended to anyone else who would like to attend, be they schools that were involved this year or would like to get involved next year, customers, chefs or anyone interested in conservation issues.

The much lauded economic recovery unfortunately hasn’t been experienced by our food neighbours Ensors, the abattoir, butchers and meat processors in the Forest of Dean. Last month their assets were sold by the administrators to a competitor based in Ireland. Over the years they had gained a reputation as the go-to abattoir and processed all the Duchy of Cornwall’s livestock. They were also flag bearers for the Prince of Wales and the Academy of Culinary Arts Mutton Renaissance but fierce competition and a huge investment in new premises saddled them with a debt that proved eventually to be unsustainable. I believe Jody Scheckter’s Laverstoke Park Farm with its model abattoir is already taking enquiries from old Ensor customers - the world moves on quickly.