Radio 2

Ghent hospital gears up to treat patients of chemical attack

Ghent University Hospital (UZ) is getting ready to treat victims of any chemical attack in Ukraine. Staff are once again familiarising themselves with the chemical incidents course, are rehearsing emergency plans and are getting special protective clothing.

The hospital is considering how it can best help victims of chemical weapons’ attacks.  In this way it will be ready if Russia’s war on Ukraine escalates to include chemical attacks.  If a chemical attack on Ukrainian soil claims thousands of victims, these patients will be dispersed across European hospitals.  This is exactly what happened when chemical weapons were used in Syria a couple of years ago.

The Ghent hospital can treat up to 30 patients an hour following a CBNR or chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological attack.

“We don’t usually experience such issues.  Still it is important to be mindful of how such patients are treated” says head surgeon Frank Vermassen.

Staff have been brought up to speed on how to treat victims of CBNR attacks thanks to a webinar, a seminar on the web.  300 staff tuned in to the webinar that is still available on YouTube.

The Ghent hospital is ready to treat Ukrainian victims, but also other patients in case the conflict escalates and other countries are involved.  

Protocols list how many patients European hospitals can treat during the first two hours of an attack.  3% of hospital beds are currently set aside for this end. For the Ghent hospital this means 30 patients, but the UZ admits it won’t be easy to keep up that number for more than a couple of hours.  The hospital expects 10% of patients to need critical care and 60% of patients to be suffering from minor injuries.

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