Gloucestershire's largest emergency services training exercise is held
THE county's largest emergency services training exercise has taken place to ensure preparations for large-scale disasters are in place.
Police officers and firefighters donned gas masks to practice the preparations for chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents.
Yesterday's event involved more than 200 people – including 50 police officers and 180 members of staff from other emergency services. The event tested the blue light services' command and control room, and firearms officers response times at the staged challenged at the Old Bentham Works.
It also saw 'casualties' being taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital to test its decontamination systems in place.
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It was run by the Local Resilience Forum with 200 people from the emergency services, health authority and local authorities.
Chris Jackson from Gloucestershire police said: "It went very well and tested our decontamination processes with our partner agencies.
"There were some learning points which will be picked up but this is to be expected and the key is that they are identified in these type of exercises.
"We hold these exercises every two years.
"The chances of something like this ever happening in Gloucestershire are very low but it is vital we test our procedures with our colleagues from other agencies to ensure we are prepared for any eventuality."
Geoff Sallis, deputy chief fire officer, added: "We carry out a lot of emergency planning, but the only way to really understand how it works in a real environment is to undertake an exercise.
"This is a relatively new scenario. We've carried out some smaller exercises, but this is a big one for us locally. It is a huge commitment in resources and it isn't easy to pull together, but it is essential that we do it.
"All of the emergency services involved still have the staff and vehicles to respond to emergencies as normal while the exercise is carried out."
Students from the Gloucestershire College Uniformed Public Services course helped by playing casualties.
The fire service used its mass decontamination equipment, which can clean up 150 people per hour.
Operators donned specialist protective suits and people go through a series of showers which will remove any contamination from their body.
From there they would be given protective clothing and taken either to hospital or a rest centre.