MORE than a dozen farmhands were rushed to hospital with suspected chemical fertiliser burns.

Or at least that was the scenario acted out by A&E staff and volunteers earlier this afternoon outside Great Western Hospital.

Four members of staff at the Swindon hospital emergency department donned the green plastic hazardous materials suits, taking three volunteers through a decontamination tent.

The exercise was organised by Sarah Orr, a resilience officer at GWH. Staff were told to expect 15 farm workers who had been exposed to a caustic chemical fertiliser and bused-in to the hospital on a minibus by the farmer’s wife.

Volunteer Sarah Uzzell, 21, was one of the “farmhands” who volunteered to be scrubbed down in the decontamination tent. Sarah, who hopes to be an emergency care practitioner with South Western Ambulance Service, said: “It’s a really good thing to get involved with. It’s something that, potentially, I might be involved with in the future. It’s good to gain an insight into it now.”

Wearing the green hazmat suit, A&E assistant Carol Barwell, praised the exercise: “It makes us aware and how to use the equipment. These exercises keep us safe – as well as the public.”

Read the full story in tomorrow's Adver.