The Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service conducted a major incident training exercise in Salford last Friday.

The demonstration, focusing on mass contamination and chemical safety, gave GM’s Fire and Rescue Service the chance to use specialist equipment in a fictitious scenario where an unknown substance contaminated a group of people.

GM’s Fire and Rescue Service carried out the demonstration in two phases. The first phase simulated an animal rights group releasing a chemical agent amongst a small group of innocent bystanders, while the second phase imagined the perpetrator had moved into a cafeteria, contaminating 150 to 200 people.

Phillip Nelson, Group Manager at GM’s Fire and Rescue Service, said: “[The second phase] is where we want to test all the resources we have, all the specialist teams we have, and all the specialist equipment.”

The second phase involved setting up a temporary mass decontamination centre. Fire crews led volunteers through a decontamination process where they were disrobed and showered. Numerous firetrucks, response vans, and a drone aided in completing the demonstration.

Dawn Docx, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, called these exercises “absolutely invaluable”, saying: “I’m really impressed with how everybody’s worked together and all out partners have come on board today and made it a very realistic exercise.”

Some volunteers have previously helped with these exercises in previous years. One volunteer said: “You see things on the TV like Salisbury and you think how does that work in real life. So it’s a bit of an insight into that and a bit of an experience.”

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George Owen, a first-time volunteer, said: “It’s a good opportunity. It’s definitely worth it to see what happens and to obviously help out the Fire Service as well.

“I would do it again.”

The Salvation Army provided catering for the fire crews and volunteers.

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