No need for alarm as chemical incident in Petersfield tested emergency response

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Thursday 29th November 2018 4:00 pm
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A scene from the operation at Penns Place. Picture by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority. ()

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AN EVENT to prepares the emergency services for a “once in a lifetime” incident has taken place on the edge of Petersfield.

More than 50 members of the emergency services took part in a preparation and response exercise next to Penns Place on November 17.

Scouts became casualties in the real-time event which involved personnel from the county’s ambulance, police and fire services.

The event was one of three which took place across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on the day according to station manager at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Dave Graham.

The exercise simulated a hazardous materials incident but participants had no idea what they would face before the fake alarm bell was rung.

Mr Graham said: “We’ve tried our best to recreate a real incident and crews have come from across Hampshire to get here.

“They knew they were going to take part in an exercise but they were initially replying to an Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) which turned into a ‘hazmat’ incident with casualties, so it’s good training.”

Fire crews from as far as Portchester, Hartley Wintney and Surrey stations took part in the exercise with participants also being required to identify chemicals and use the necessary equipment.

The testing event was ‘fun’ but also deadly serious, according to Mr Graham, who added: “The important bit is that we’re given a chance to test our response and get the opportunity to learn from it.

“What is being replicated is something out of the ordinary that may only happen once in a lifetime and planning for that is something that you cannot underestimate.”