Fire evacuation practice exercise at Northampton General Hospital in mock baby unit on Sunday

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Chance for hospital and fire crews to practice for an emergency

A joint emergency planning exercise between Northampton General Hospital and the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service is being held at the hospital on Sunday, June 4.

The event is being held from 11am-1.30pm to rehearse and test both the hospital and fire service’s emergency response to a difficult and sensitive hospital emergency.

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It will involve four fire engines, their crews, and a number of other support vehicles, responding to a mock emergency in a simulated high dependency and intensive care unit for babies.

A major fire emergency planning exercise is being held at NGH on Sunday June 4A major fire emergency planning exercise is being held at NGH on Sunday June 4
A major fire emergency planning exercise is being held at NGH on Sunday June 4

The real baby unit – Gosset Ward – is not being used for the exercise with a mock ward being established at the opposite side of the site in an area vacated by the hospital’s former Intensive Care Unit (*a new £16m ICU opened at NGH to replace the old unit in June last year).

This means both the fire crews, and hospital staff, can realistically practice dealing with an emergency - complete with the use of safe smoke (the type used in nightclubs) and real hospital incubators, cots, and associated equipment.

Director of Estates and Facilities, Paul Shead, said: “We have been planning this exercise for three years but because of the Covid-pandemic – and a lack of decant ward space - it hasn’t been possible to carry out.

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“Now, because we have the old intensive care unit, and because Covid infections have fallen to a low level, we are in a position to undertake the practice event.

“It and represents a great opportunity for the Trust, and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, to further build our relationship and to stress test our responses in a safe environment.

“We are using realistic mannequins to simulate the evacuation of babies, real staff are taking part and we are using real equipment in the mocked-up unit.

“This will enable us to test the ward, site, and fire management team, responses to an emergency and ensure our liaison work with the fire and rescue service is smooth and effective.

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“It also enables the ward to practice its continuing care procedures for babies if they did have to be moved in a real situation.”

The real Gosset Ward will be unaffected by the exercise. Members of the public who may witness the activity on Sunday should not be concerned and there is no need to contact the hospital or fire service about it.