Police and fire crews came together for a training exercise with a difference – practising their responses to a horror chemical attack.
The South Yorkshire Police Public Order Training Centre at Manvers was the setting for a dramatic morning’s drill – with senior police officers plus 15 fire crew members from Elm Lane station in Sheffield, Maltby Road in Rotherham, and Cudworth in Barnsley.
Seven students from Dearne Valley College role-played the parts of casualties – pretending to be hurt as the result of an unknown chemical being thrown into a packed pub.
Watch manager Alan Blenkiron from Maltby station said: “The scenario was that of a mass decontamination of an unknown chemical, released into a pub.”
South Yorkshire Police Inspector Darren Starkey, who was also taking part in the exercise, said: “It’s to look at the inter-operability of the emergency services in response to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents, should they arise.”
The session organiser was trainer PC Mark Darlinson, who said: “We decided between the police and the fire and rescue service to run the sessions so we can both see what we do and work together.
“It’s rare we get a chance to train together because of operational commitments, so it’s an event for us to get a better understanding between the services.”
For the role play fire brigade crews enacted what they would do to treat casualties of a chemical attack, while police assessed the area as a crime scene and practised decontamination procedures.
Students taking public services at Dearne Valley College often need to brush up on their acting skills, as they are routinely draughted in to play civilian parts in police and fire training sessions.
Lecturer in public services, Gareth Webb, said: “The students get a lot out of it and it goes towards their work placements. It gives them the opportunity to see the practicalities of the job.”
South Yorkshire Police are looking to run seven more such sessions over the next couple of months, allowing local emergency service teams to work together.