6 Oct 2010

Fallen hero Lt Mark Evison: 'Golden hour' neglected

Margaret Evison is as pretty far removed from the tub-thumping anti-war campaigning Mother. She would have great sympathy for such women – it’s just that she’s not one of them.

She supports the Afghanistan war. Though having just returned from a trip to Kabul and the Panshjir Valley with the veteran reporter Sandy Gall, her support is no longer untroubled by doubt. But broadly, she still backs the war which took the life of her young son.

Her beef though, is that she wants something to come of that death. Something of real use for other young men, injured on the battle field, down the line.

Principally she asks for greater focus on “the golden hour”: that short 60 minute window from the moment injury is inflicted in which medical intervention really counts.

She feels this has been neglected.

She feels too that her son’s death should underline the continuing helicopter shortages in Helmand for British forces.

So too, the inadequacies of radio equipment. As Margaret will constantly remind you – you need proper comms in combat every bit as much as bullets – and often more.

And like so many before her she feels deeply short-changed by the MoD’s handling of her son’s death.

The sense that the MoD was all too swift and willing simply to write the whole incident off with a shrug – “these things happen”.

And the fundamental for a grieving mother. The fact that throughout an Inquest and down to this day, the MoD has still not explained why more than an hour elapsed from the radio message requesting helicopter evacuation for Lt Mark Evison, to his arrival in the operating theatre.

She knows the only reason he got shot was because a faulty radio meant he had to move to an exposed position to get a vital signal.

She does not know whether the long delay on getting helicopter help caused him to die she accepts he might well have died.

But it is beyond dispute that swifter help would have improved his chances. Beyond question also, that too many mysteries still surround the long, slow death of a remarkable young soldier.