Chemical decontamination training exercise at Weston General Hospital with Avon Fire & Rescue

On Monday 27 April Weston General Hospital will be holding a major chemical incident training exercise in partnership with

Avon Fire & Rescue Service.


Codenamed ‘Medicinal Compound’ the exercise will be one of the largest the hospital has taken part in. The exercise is part of normal preparedness that public organisations have to undertake as part of their statutory duty.


There will be no disruption to normal hospital business. Patients should come to their hospital appointments as normal. Visiting hours are as normal and are not affected.


Both Avon Fire & Rescue Service and the hospitals’ Emergency Department will be working in decontamination tents on the hospital grounds. They will be dealing with ‘live casualties’ (volunteers) of the chemical incident with fire engines stationed both inside and outside the hospital. Alongside this an incident control room will be set up in the hospital running in real time as events unfold.

On site at Weston General Hospital will be:

  • Six fire engines
  • Two decontamination tents
  • One incident response unit
  • 4 pumping units
  • 1 detection identification monitors
  • 20 Fire crew
  • Fire and clinical staff in protective decontamination clothing
  • Monitoring officer
  • Live volunteer ‘casualties’

Speaking about the training exercise, Karen Croker, Director of Operations for the Trust and the Commanding Director for the training exercise said:

“While nobody wants a major incident, it’s essential that hospital and emergency services are able to plan and prepare for a high level response if the worst was to happen. 

“We’re pleased to give Avon Fire & Rescue the facilities in the hospital to run this training and put our own Emergency Department through the extreme pressures of the situation. I’m looking forward to testing our reactions and responses to a major crisis in a safe and controlled environment – including my own!

“Despite this being a major operation, the hospital will run as normal and will not be affected. The exercise is being run on grounds at the back of the hospital, away from the front entrance.

“We’re expecting fire engines outside the hospital on the main road so we would like to apologise if there is any inconvenience caused and also reassure people not to be alarmed by anything they may see on the day.”

Avon Fire & Rescue Service Station Manager Jon Brown said: “This exercise provides us with a good opportunity to work closely with the other agencies which may be involved in an incident of this nature.


“The scenario involves a number of people exposed to a chemical which will cause varying degrees of injury. We will be practicing our protocols and procedures for responding to a major incident involving an unknown substance.


“We will also be testing the equipment we use to decontaminate large numbers of people and working alongside the Weston General Hospital to ensure that in the event of a real incident of this nature in the local area we are can respond quickly and effectively.”