Over 250 people involved in ‘chemical incident’ training exercise

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Emergency Services from across West Yorkshire conducted a large scale training exercise today in Wakefield, involving more than 250 volunteers.

The training operation has been taking place at the West Yorkshire Police Carr Gate Complex .

Ambulance crew in 'chemical suits' decontaminate a 'casualty'. Picture Scott Merrylees

Ambulance crew in 'chemical suits' decontaminate a 'casualty'. Picture Scott Merrylees

It formed part of national series of exercises aimed at ensuring cities across the UK are prepared in the event of an incident involving a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) element.

Alongside the three emergency services – West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and Yorkshire Ambulance Service – are the NHS, Yorkshire Water and other agencies.

The scenario involves the deliberate release of a chemical. The exercise will focus on the process of decontaminating people affected by an incident and their subsequent care and support in a survivor reception centre.

The exercise is not a planned response to any specific threat but is one of a number of other similar exercises that have taken place across the country to ensure that major cities are thoroughly prepared for a range of major emergencies and disasters should the worst case scenario ever occur.

It has been in preparation since June last year and is one of a number of routine exercises organised to test the response of the Emergency Services and other partners. There is a legal obligation under the Civil Contingencies Act to prepare and practice for a major incident.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Pat Casserly, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “This type of exercise is vital to ensure that we are properly prepared for any type of major incident and that we work together effectively. I can reassure members of the public that this is routine and has no impact on our frontline services.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton, of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “The range of major incidents which emergency responders are faced with is massive. Opportunities to test and rehearse the multi-agency response on this scale are limited, and we will seek to learn as much as we can from the exercise as well as assuring ourselves that our response is effective.”

Mike Shanahan, Head of Special Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “Exercises like this are an excellent opportunity to test our major incident procedures and partnership working with emergency service colleagues. The staff participating in the exercise are additional to our frontline staff already on duty so there will be no detrimental impact on normal services.”

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