It was a horrifying scenario that they hope they will never see.
But firefighters were yesterday dispatched to the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster, to act out a nightmare terrorist emergency with a team of volunteers.
Students from Doncaster College played the role of victims in a simulated terrorist attack involving toxic chemicals, spilling out of the stadium to be decontaminated in the way they would if there was a genuine emergency.
Yesterday’s response from the fire service was an exercise – but they are ready to act if it happened for real.
The whole incident, which took around two and a half hours to demonstrate, involved staff and vehicles from all four fire and rescue services in Yorkshire and Humberside, plus other partner agencies, to test the arrangements those organisations have in place for supporting each other across county borders.
At the same time, another major incident was simulated elsewhere in the county to test how fire services respond to more than one large-scale event.
The incident included the deployment of the fire service’s detection, identification and monitoring and mass decontamination vehicles which carry shower-tents and emergency clothing.
Before the training exercise started, group manager Andy Hayter, of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “What we’ve got simulated is an incident that we refer to as a white powder incident, a large-scale contamination of a group of people within a stadium.”
The simulation began when a group of around 30 Doncaster College students, who had volunteered to be actors in the exercise, staggered from the building violently coughing.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus threw bright orange suits to the pupils, keeping a safe distance to avoid being contaminated, indicating that they should get changed in to them.
This was done because around 80 per cent of chemicals can be removed from a person if they take off their clothes.
Once changed, officers dressed in specialist protective suits led the students in to the shower-tents, known as mass decontamination structures, to shower and get changed.
To reflect what would happen in a real-life incident their clothes, which had been placed in plastic bags, were placed in a bin outside the showers.
Once showered, the students were taken back in to the stadium, but in a real-life situation they would be interviewed by the police and possibly taken to hospital.
A small area around the Keepmoat Stadium, Stadium Way, was closed to the public between 11am and 1.30pm so the specialist equipment could be deployed.