16 February 1996

Security on our minds…

OUR friendly neighbourhood rabbit-shooter alerted me to yet another gang of hare coursers the other day. I arrived just in time to spot their number plates.

There were three or four dogs with assorted disreputable hangers-on, but as usual the van numbers didnt tally with any registered vehicles.

Owners could not be traced and we were told once again that unless we could catch the uninvited guests with dead hares and prove that they had killed them illegally, we would not have a leg to stand on. Luckily, one of the passers-by who had seen the band leaving was an estate manager who had been similarly troubled. He invited us to attend a meeting to see how neighbouring farmers are combating coursing as well as other forms of countryside crime.

Countryside Watch

Represented at the meeting was the local police force, the NFU and Countryside Watch, a sort of Neighbourhood Watch designed particularly for the rural community. Old fashioned padlocks, we were told, are no use as they can so easily be jemmied open, especially if the buildings fabric isnt too secure. Field-gates hardly hinder determined trespassers, so the first thing we looked at was the high-security closed shackle padlockwhich along with a heavy duty chain is now recommended by many insurance companies.

Even if you cant make your workshop totally secure – perhaps it is in a wooden barn where a thief could get in through the roof – then you should consider making a locked cage within the building, into which all your valuable tools can be placed at the end of the day. Security coding, whether by painting, engraving, cold dye stamping or marker pen is another vital measure to help combat farm theft. If you want to join a Countryside Watch scheme in your area, it insists that you mark tools in this way.

Neighbourly vigilance

But no matter how conscious you are of your own security, there is nothing to beat the vigilance of neighbours. We were told how important it is to report immediately anything even slightly suspicious in the way of unusual vehicles, lurking strangers or just something that worries you.

The information you provide goes straight on to computer. Of course, it is not just one way information.

Through their Voicemail system, Countryside Watch co-ordinators can be informed by the police ofpotential trouble and within minutes 10-15 members in one locality can be alerted.

We intend to talk to our local police about the possibility of forming a group in our area because the meeting we attended was a few miles away.

It would be interesting to hear tips for success from any group which started from scratch.

How many times have you rummaged bloodily through your farm first aid kit searching for that plaster you knew was in there but isnt now? Then, you always promise yourself that when you have time you will update and replenish the stock.

It is vital to have the right sorts of bandages, slings, dressings and plaster. But potentially even more useful is a little first aid training so that at least you know how to cope with an injury until professional help arrives.

Most of our farm staff at Easton Lodge have now attended a one-day practical course, organised by the Rutland Training Group and taught by a Red Cross instructor with immense experience and endless patience.

Everyone has something to learn. The instructor, Mrs Smith reckons first aid techniques change frequently and that a refresher course once a year is a good idea. Did you know, for example, that resuscitation now involves 15 heart compressions followed by two mouth-to-mouth breaths?

An untrained person confronted by a farm accident can actually do more harm than good and training can – and in our experience does – give staff enough confidence to deal with the injured in a practical way before handing over to the medics.

The British Red Cross have updated their helpful guide, Practical First Aid It could be a useful reminder for those who may be a little rusty on exactly how to tie a sling, how to treat burns and what you should do if someone is choking.

Easton Lodges visitors centre is used throughout the year by a range of organisations. Last week it was the turn of the Rutland Training Group who staged a one-day course on the correct use of abrasive wheels. Training adviser Keith Cook explains some of the hazards to an attentive audience.