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Chemical leak at Ipswich Hospital

PUBLISHED: 13:41 03 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

A FRIDGE the size of a large microwave sparked a full-scale chemical alert at the children's ward of Ipswich Hospital today.

More than 20 firefighters were called in after a report of an overpowering smell of ammonia in one of the outpatients units of Bergholt Ward shortly before 8.

A WOMAN was given first aid yesterday after a full-scale chemical alert at the children's ward of Ipswich Hospital.

More than 20 firefighters were called to an outpatient unit at Bergholt Ward shortly before 8.50am after a fridge, the size of a large microwave, sparked the alert after leaking ammonia.

"The firefighters were shown to the room where there was a strong smell which we were told was ammonia," said assistant divisional officer Paul Seager, the firefighter in charge of the incident. "We immediately swung into chemical incident procedure.

"It turned out to be a drugs fridge. Ammonia was used as a coolant in older fridges and there was a leak from it. We removed the fridge from the hospital along with all the staff in the immediate area and there was a limited evacuation of the first floor."

Four fire crews, a turntable ladder and the forward control vehicle, which is used in potentially serious incidents, were dispatched to the scene.

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said that during the emergency it had not been necessary to evacuate children from the ward. She added the leak was contained to two units of the outpatients department – The Champ Unit and the Paediatric Assessment Unit.

Despite the drama no clinics were cancelled or appointments missed by patients who came to Bergholt Ward today, Ms Rowsell added.

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