Ludgershall residents may have noticed something strange going on last Wednesday evening (March 23), when the local Fire and Rescue Service ran a training exercise to prepare for an incident involving hazardous materials.

Three fire engines, two rapid response vehicles and up to 30 Officers from Hampshire & the Isle of Wight and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Services took part in the exercise, run in partnership with staff from the University of Hertfordshire.

SEE ALSO: Mother-of-three ‘desperate’ after mould in flat causes 10-week-old baby to be rushed to hospital

The storyline for the exercise was based on the accidental release of cyanide within an industrial unit, resulting in three casualties who had to be rescued and decontaminated.

Conrad Jordan, watch manager at the Ludgershall Fire Station, said: “This realistic approach to training provides our service personnel with a unique opportunity to ensure that, in the event of a real Hazmat incident, we can respond rapidly, efficiently and safely to save lives and prevent contamination of surrounding areas”.

The incident response was based on the UK’s new ‘Initial Operational Response’ which prioritises the safety of casualties who have been potentially exposed to toxic chemicals.

SEE ALSO: Volunteers needed at Ludgershall lab to help develop app to detect deadly gas

Professor Rob Chilcott, whose team helped develop the new incident response, said: “The exercise was challenging and fully tested all aspects of the Fire and Rescue Service’s response to a chemical incident.

"It was reassuring to see the speed and professionalism of the teams responding to such a difficult task.”

The Fire and Rescue Service responds to around 4,000 incidents involving toxic materials in the UK every year.