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Terry Prone: Attention! Why our bolshie troops must (cold) snap to it

We didn't get half enough of the Army during the Ice Crisis. We have arguably the best-equipped, best-trained army in Europe and certainly the most experienced when it comes to coping with the end results of disaster.

Where they WERE deployed, they did vital tasks efficiently and well.

But apparently they draw the line at clearing footpaths.

According to one local authority, when asked to clear snow from footpaths, the Army lads on the ground said, "No way. Yeah, we'll do it outside hospitals. But elsewhere, snow on footpaths doesn't constitute an emergency."

Ah, lads. Get a grip. In order to get to the bus or the train or the car, you had to traverse a footpath. And, during the Ice Crisis, that was hazardous enough to create wonderful footage on YouTube, as individuals lost their footing, sailed up in the air and came down with an embarrassing whack.

End result? Our A&Es were overwhelmed with broken wrists, shattered arms, cracked ribs, fractured femurs, crushed ankles and ruined hips.

Take Tom Parlon. He fell on a footpath, broke his ribs and punctured his lung. I know of at least one young person whose fall involved a head injury which left her partially paralysed.

So whence comes this notion that footpaths covered in ice don't constitute an emergency? The assumption seems to be that the roads have to be cleared for vehicles, but to hell with the paths, because they're used only by people.

Of course, the Army thinks in priorities and statistics: fix what's vital, first. Good thinking. They establish what's most dangerous and deal with it.

Because this was a once-in-forty-years crisis, nobody had statistics to establish the relative importance of the humble footpath. That can't happen again.

We need someone like Prof Stephen Cusack, the emergency medicine expert, to do a fast study on how many serious injuries, this time around, happened on footpaths as opposed to roads, so if and when it happens again, the data is there to prove to the Amy that footpaths merit their attention.

I'd lay money that at least 80pc of the serious injuries in A&E were to individuals who fell on footpaths.

In Denmark, you have to clear the path outside your home. But in Ireland, old people can't do that -- and who's responsible for the path outside a block of flats?

An iced-up footpath can be lethal. Next time around, we need the Army clearing footpaths as well as roads.