Hospital staff deal with chemical scare exercise

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parts of the accident and emergency unit at Chesterfield Royal Hospital were cordoned off and a decontamination tent was erected after a chemical scare...as part of a major planning exercise.

The event was organised to allow staff to put their emergency training to the test in case they ever need to deal with chemical, radioactive, biological or nuclear incidents.

The scenario involved an incident at the Royal Oak roundabout where a bus collided with a container lorry that overturned and sprayed passers-by with an unknown chemical.

Steven Swift, head of cancer services and major incident planning, who planned and ran the training exercise, said: “We’ve done the theory but we needed to test the practice and the main points of the exercise were to see how long and how efficiently the decontamination tent was erected, how staff interacted and treated potentially contaminated patients and the key decisions made.

“One of the important things for our emergency department is to make sure that other patients are protected so the decontamination tent and the potential for lockdown are key.

“Our staff may normally put their arm round an injured patient to take them into the emergency department but in a chemical situation this would result in that member of staff potentially contaminating themselves.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service, who also took part, assessed the staff’s response, their speed, decision making, rules and regulations and the way ‘victims’ were treated.