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Emergency planning exercise tests plans at Hereford County Hospital

Press release – February 20 2017


Emergency planning exercise tests plans at Hereford County Hospital    

It may have looked like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie, but the “dying” and “injured” at Hereford County Hospital over the weekend were actors taking part in an emergency planning exercise.

Along with the other emergency services across Herefordshire, Wye Valley NHS Trust has plans to cope with a variety of emergencies and tests them regularly to ensure it can respond effectively when necessary.

On Sunday (Feb 19) a number of “casualties” turned up at the Emergency Department following a “chemical incident” at a local company.

“This was a very real scenario which unfortunately does happen from time to time,” said Dave Swann, the Trust’s emergency planning officer.

Staff in the hospital’s Emergency Department swung into action.

“Our initial response is to isolate those who had been in contact with the chemicals - removing them from the Emergency Department ensures safety to patients and staff alike - and then removing their contaminated clothing before putting them through our decontamination process.”

This involved the casualties changing into large orange capes before entering a secure decontamination tent which contains showers for the casualties and a system to collect contaminated water in a container for safe disposal later on.

While setting up the decontamination tent a light tent is erected to provide shelter and staff can administer lifesaving treatment if required.

“It also involved our Emergency Department staff preparing for the decontamination of the casualties and for this they had to don heavy protective chemical suits to ensure they wouldn’t become contaminated themselves,” added Dave.

“Overall the exercise was a success. Staff in the Emergency Department responded correctly and in a timely manner, successfully treating the ‘patients’ while maintaining the casualties’ dignity.”

A de-brief will take place following the exercise to see if there is anything which can be learned to further streamline the process.

“As a Trust we’re open for business 24/7 365 days a year. This will inevitably mean that we’ll be involved if there is a major emergency or incident and while we always hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst through exercises like this to ensure we can give the best care and treatment that people need,” added Dave.


Picture captions:

Pic 1:

One of the "walking wounded" at the Emergency Department

Pic 2:

ED staff get into their protective chemical suits

Pice 3:

Healthcare assistant Toby Elkins and senior nurse Hannah Williams in their chemical suits in front of the decontamination unit

Pic 4:

The isolated "casualties" are given instruction from an ED nurse

Pic 5:

The "casualties" are given initial treatment prior to going into the decontamination unit

Note to Editors:

  • Wye Valley NHS Trust is the provider health services across Herefordshire and beyond. The Trust exists to improve the wellbeing, independence and health of the people we serve. We are the leading provider of health care in Herefordshire.
  • By working closely with our partners, we can make good our promise to deliver a quality of care we would want for ourselves, our families and our friends.
  • With an estimated annual turnover of around £160 million, we employ around 2,700 plus staff. We aim to build new relationships between our staff, patients, service users and their carers with the wider community.For further information please contact:

For further information please contact:

John Burnett, Communication and Engagement Manager, Wye Valley NHS Trust: 01432 372928 or Amanda Millichip, Communications Officer 01432 355444 ext. 5105.

Contact Details

John Burnett
Communication and engagement manager
Tel: 01432 372928

Amanda Millichip
Communications officer
Tel: 01432 355444 Ext: 5105

Fiona Gurney
Communications officer
Tel: 01432 355444 Ext: 5105


Postal address:

Wye Valley NHS Trust
The County Hospital
Trust Headquarters
Union Walk

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