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Parachute Training

Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 3 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South on 9 May, Official Report, column 137, how many of the 97 cases of injury and death of parachute trainees at RAF Brize Norton in 1989 were related to ill health; how many had seen a medical officer prior to the incident; and of these, how many were certified unfit to continue with immediate training.

There were no cases of injury or death at No. 1 parachute training school which were related to ill health. It is not known how many had seen a medical officer prior to the incident; medical records for those attending parachute training at RAF Brize Norton are returned to the trainees unit for regular soldiers and to general practitioners for territorials at the end of the course. If trainees were certified as unfit to continue immediate training they would not parachute again until cleared by the medical officer.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if there was an outbreak of sickness and diarrhoea at the RAF Brize Norton parachute training camp during the first two weeks of August 1989.

No. On a station the size of RAF Brize Norton, with upwards of 7,000 personnel, sickness and diarrhoea are endemic.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training is given to parachute instructors so that they will recognise concussion or other forms of illness which could impair the safety of parachute trainees; and what first aid training is given.

All NCO parachute jumping instructors are required to obtain a first aid certificate during basic training as a physical training instructor; this includes recognition of some forms of concussion. There is no training given in the recognition of any forms of illness as the trainees have immediate access to fully qualified medical officers the moment they feel unwell. During all forms of parachute training there is a fully qualified medical attendant and ambulance available at all times. There is always an individual responsibility to report sick if the trainee considers he is unfit to continue training. Queen's regulations demand this for all services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many parachute trainees at RAF Brize Norton reported to a medical officer and were categorised as requiring 48 hours or more withdrawal from the course in 1989.