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Single tent offers chemical protection

PUBLISHED: 18:00 22 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

A SINGLE ambulance decontamination tent will have to cater for the whole of East Anglia, in the event of a chemical incident in the region.

The special unit was purchased last year by the East Anglian Ambulance Trust - which wants two more ideally, but no extra money has arrived from the Government to buy any more for Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

A SINGLE ambulance decontamination tent will have to cater for the whole of East Anglia, in the event of a chemical incident in the region.

The special unit was purchased last year by the East Anglian Ambulance Trust - which wants two more ideally, but no extra money has arrived from the Government to buy any more for Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: "We would ideally like two more units - and hope to have these next year. At present we are the only trust in the Eastern Counties with this facility."

The tent is essentially an inflatable 10ft x 6ft structure with a shower inside it.

Patients who have been exposed to a chemical risk, enter at one end and out the other through a shower.

Their clothes are bagged up and taken away and they are given something else to wear.

Meanwhile, protective suits for paramedics have now been ordered and a group of staff who have volunteered to undertake decontamination duties, are being trained.

They are learning what to do should there be an outbreak of a chemical incident, and their role has become all the more vital in the wake of the New York terrorist attacks of September 11.

The ambulance service is also making daily calls to regional Department of Health bosses during the heightened state of alert in the UK, to check for any developments they need to respond to.

The decontamination unit could become a lifesaver in the event of chemical incidents.

EAAT chief executive Dr Chris Carney said: "We have updated emergency plans and are positioning ourselves to deploy the unit as best as possible over the three counties, and region.

"We are likely to be the mainstay of ambulance decontamination for the Eastern region until February."

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