Providing 24-hour chemical emergency response this festive season

Providing 24-hour chemical emergency response this festive season
21 December 2017

Providing 24-hour emergency response on Christmas Day

In 2004, the National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC), a subsidiary of Ricardo, expanded its operations to provide 24/7 chemical emergency response.

That means that on Christmas day we’ll have teams of trained chemical emergency responders working around the clock from our emergency response hub in Oxfordshire.

This year on Christmas Day John Wilkinson, Nigel Blumire, James Smith and Jon Lang will be providing cover, with Greig Scott, Tom Johnson, Neil Thomas and Sam Turner supporting over the festive period. They, and other colleagues who are on-call to provide backup cover remotely, will support the UK’s blue light emergency services and over 500 private sector customers to handle chemical incidents that occur over the holidays.

You would be forgiven for thinking that providing emergency telephone response on Christmas day will mean that our team will have a quiet shift. In reality, our emergency responders receive a surprisingly high volume of calls, ranging from festive themed incidents to potentially high consequence industrial chemical emergencies.

On Christmas Day in 2016 we received five serious emergency calls. This included a gentleman in Spain whose plans to drive home for Christmas were interrupted by putting the wrong oil in his car. Fortunately, we offer 24/7 multilingual support all year round and were able to help the caller get the assistance he needed to fix his vehicle.

Later in the day we received a call from a chemical tanker ship experiencing engine failure in the British Channel. We were also contacted by a major European airport where a spill of a chemical product had occurred during a loading operation. Rapid response to airport incidents is essential due to the knock on-effects of schedules being interrupted because a plane can’t be moved, or an area of the airport is cordoned off.

During the holidays, delays can be the difference between making it home for Christmas and not, and I’m proud that our team of trained chemists were able to provide incident response advice that helped the airport to resolve the incident quickly and safely. 

This is just one of the ways that Ricardo is supporting airports across Europe to implement and deliver sustainable business practices.

Previous Christmases have been similarly eventful. One memorable incident involved a man who had chosen to spend Christmas day laying new carpet at his house, and super-glued his hand to the carpet in the process. Our responder provided tips and tricks that he could use to free himself in time for Christmas dinner.

Of course, this year we are hoping that everyone, everywhere has a safe and incident free Christmas.  

For more information on the NCEC and its role providing emergency response and crisis notificaiton services across industry, visit or download Ricardo's "Chemical Risk Overview" brochure. 

Visit our airports services page or download our brochure to find out how Ricardo is supporting the UK's biggest airports to achieve sustainable, competitive and profitable growth.