FIREFIGHTERS and paramedics carried out a day of dramatic training exercises at the Great Western Hospital yesterday.

Teams tackled three scenarios in different areas of the hospital to test their procedures and discover ways they could improve their firefighting ability.

Five fire engines, 35 fire fighters and and ambulance staff took part in the exercises.

Just after midday, they ‘rescued’ four missing people after a fire in an underground service tunnel, then dealt with a chemical spillage in the Energy Centre with one pretend-victim, then tackled a fake fire in the ENH ward with the firefighters wearing adapted visors which simulated what their vision would look like if the room was full of smoke.

They tested their equipment, fire safety procedures, teamwork and efficiency.

Dorset And Wiltshire Fire And Rescue Service station manager Lee Braithwaite took part in the exercises with crews from Westlea, Swindon and Stratton.

He said: “It’s been very challenging in terms of logistics but hugely rewarding for the hospital and ourselves.

“The crews got to train in a scenarios that are completely realistic that they could respond to for real.

“Not everything went right but it very rarely does, the learning that has come out of it has been very useful and it’s been absolutely fantastic working together with the hospital.

“We would be very keen to repeat this in future.”

Steve Hince, the fire safety adviser for the GWH NHS Foundation Trust had been working together with the fire service and the hospital’s service provider Carillion to organise the training day since November.

He said: “We wanted to make this as low impact on patient services as we could, it’s been a great success.

“We came up with a series of scenarios that would enable every aspect of what would need to be done in the event of an incident at the hospital.

“There are observers monitoring what the fire crews do and are looking at their responses to make sure they are as effective as possible. Hopefully this will be a regular event.”