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Hospital tests out £200,000 of disaster response equipment
2:00pm Friday 5th October 2012 in Latest
EMERGENCY plans at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital were put to the test with a realistic training exercise.
Passers-by watched in amazement as actors and staff played out a scenario testing the hospital's ability to cope with a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosives incident.
Staff wore protective clothing and a decontamination tent was erected for the exercise, which took place mainly in the area outside the discharge lounge.
Emergency planning officer Troy Welch told the Daily Echo: “We have to be prepared for every scenario; this exercise was to test our decontamination and major incident plans.
“We had to respond to a coach crash involving a tanker on the Cooper Dean roundabout. As well as having to treat casualties from the accident we had to simultaneously deal with contamination from the tanker which was carrying industrial strength solvents.
“Mock news footage and actors from the national charity Casualty Unions helped us make it look realistic. We had 12 casualties coming through the three-minute decontamination process. Toxic fumes or any form of contamination could be harmful to patients and, if it happened in real life, we would have to close the hospital.
“The Trust recently purchased around £200,000 of response equipment; the suits alone cost £1,500 each, and we wanted to test it out. Hopefully we will never have to use the equipment in real life but it is important that we are prepared.
“Chemical tankers could create an alert and we also have industrial units where harsh chemicals are used to produce solvents.”
Troy added: “We put up signs to warn people that the exercise was taking place because the sight of the tent and people dressed in space suits could have caused understandable alarm to patients and visitors.”