A HUGE explosion at Bootham Crescent was the scenario presented to York Hospital medics in an exercise to prepare them for a major incident.

Over 400 medics and support staff were told they were facing mass casualties from an explosion and set about treating patients- including live actors with Hollywood standard make up - as if they were dealing with a real mass-casualty scenario

Explosives, simulation bodies and mannequins were used to replicate a scenario where casualties had injuries ranging from head traumas, internal bleeding, loss of limbs, blood loss and burns.

Doctors and nurses from A&E departments in both York and Scarborough responded as they would in real life - transferring patients to theatres for surgery as needed.

The live training was carried out at the Army Medical Training Centre in Strensall.

Dr Phil Dickinson, the exercise clinical director, said: "We need to be ready to deal with a major incident whenever it happens - whether it’s a flood, fire, bomb blast or bus crash. In order to cope in these circumstances when we’re under intense pressure, it’s vital that we exercise our plans to ensure we can carry on providing safe, high-quality care to all our patients.

“Our emergency departments in York and Scarborough are designated as trauma units and deal with serious injuries every day, but this exercise was an opportunity for them to practice dealing with multiple, severely injured people coming to hospital on mass. It meant staff could test their skills in a high pressure scenario, getting a real feel for what it would be like - but in a safe, simulated environment.”

The centre in Strensall is used to train the military’s medical response to major incident and conflict situations - ranging from the response to the Ebola epidemic to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Both exercises for the York Hospital trust ran over seven hours with a total of 184 simulated patients treated.

Patients were processed as they would be in a real life incident, including moving patients through the x-ray and scanning departments, and issuing approximately 200 simulated units of blood and blood products to treat patients.