AF&RS take part in chemical incident training

Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS) has taken part in a series of multi-agency training exercises to tests its chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear response.

The three training sessions, which fell under CBRNe, were designed to test how emergency services from across the region responded to incidents such as chemical spills and contamination.

These scenarios involved staff from Avon and Somerset Police, South Western Ambulance Service, Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, National Resilience and other emergency services from across the South West.

Each session has tested casualty management, chemical identification, mass decontamination, scene management and inter-service communication.

The final scenario, held yesterday (6/11), simulated a chlorine leak that had contaminated 20 people in a small area. Along with this, some casualties had not been affected by the chemical leak but needed treatment within the area.

While the police managed the scene, AF&RS and DSFRS identified the chemicals involved and conducted the mass decontamination of all casualties, before they were handed to ambulance crews.

Darren Kingston, Station Manager and CBRNe lead for AF&RS, said: “These training scenarios are a fantastic way for each emergency service to learn and showcase exactly how they would respond to an incident that would be challenging in a variety of different ways.

“While these incidents like this are rare, when they do occur it is crucial that we are able to respond in an effective and efficient way, helping to minimise the number of casualties and their injuries.

“As an ambitious service, we worked hard to make these as realistic as possible, utilising volunteers as live casualties, multiple agencies from around the region and a realistic site thanks to Avon and Somerset Police.

“We have already taken away several learning points from these three scenarios and will continue to develop our response as we take part in more training.

“I would like to thank every agency that has taken part, especially the volunteers who helped to such an extent and were fully committed to their roles.”

‘CBRNe’ is the abbreviation commonly used to describe the malicious use of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear materials or weapons with the intention to cause significant harm or disruption.

The hazards posed by these materials vary but will normally include some form of chemical substance, biological bacteria or virus, radioactive materials or nuclear detonation.

Paul Lacey, CBRNe lead for Avon and Somerset Police, added: “This was fantastic regional training and while we conduct regular training, these scenarios are a great learning opportunity.

“CBRNe requires a close working relationship and a lot of communication between agencies and partners. It is always great to refine these skills and ensure we are able to respond effectively when needed.

“I would like to thank our police colleagues from across the region and everyone that attended over the three sessions.”