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Exercise tests staff at hospital

A major emergency exercise was held at City Hospital in Birmingham on Sunday 20th June to test the procedures for staff at the hospital and emergency services in the event of large number of people requiring decontamination.

city_hosp_1Decontamination is usually necessary following exposure to chemicals or other substances and involves undressing and going through a shower unit with the assistance of emergency services personnel dressed in protective suits.

The exercise at City Hospital tested their new decontamination unit, which would be used if casualties from an emergency incident made their own way to the hospital and they required decontamination before being treated.  The new permanently installed unit is one of the first in the UK.

Station Commander John Pell from West Midlands Fire Service said, “Usually in this type of incident the fire and ambulance services would set up decontamination showers close to the scene of an incident in order to avoid contaminated people leaving the area and contaminating others.  We know that sometimes people are going to leave the scene and come to A&E, which is why hospitals are trained to set up their own decontamination showers.”

“Exercises such as this one are essential to make sure we are better prepared should an incident ever occur. They make sure that everyone has practised the plans that are in place and everyone knows what to do.”

city_hosp_4Over 60 members of the public volunteered to be pretend casualties and were told they had arrived at the hospital following an explosion containing a chemical which was set off in Birmingham.  Some casualties were given make-up and pretend injuries and were all taken through the decontamination showers by specially trained fire service and hospital staff in protective suits before being taken into the A&E department.

Dr David Nicholl, who is a doctor at the hospital, was one of the volunteers: “I had never taken part in such an exercise and it was a fascinating event – essentially to test the emergency services to the max and see how well the system worked.”


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