The Salisbury Novichok attack helped prepare officers to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a police welfare chief.
Mark Andrews, chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said extra chemical and biological training brought in during the deadly nerve agent episode in 2018 equipped officers with much-needed skills to thrive in the health crisis.
He added it was “extremely lucky” the Novichok affair did not lead to mass casualties while adding: “Obviously, it’s extremely unfortunate someone did die.”
He told PA: “Hopefully the other people affected have recovered fully but you never know with Novichok, it’s one of those untested things.
“You don’t know how it’s going to affect you later in life.
“As we move forward we’ve introduced new things. The way we deal with things when we come across situations like that, it’s opened our eyes to what we might be facing.
“For example, de-gloving, de-PPEing, taking off our aprons, goggles, visors etc, we use a lot of the techniques we learned during our chemical and biological training, and also through our managing of scenes.
“We’ve used that new education already and it’s come to good stead when we’ve been out there dealing with Covid.
“We’ve trained more officers to deal with chemical attacks … we are a county which you would see could be at risk at attack through homeland terrorism as well as international terrorism, we do have locations like Porton Down, which would be a good target for someone looking to hit us.”
Mr Andrews also sent his best wishes to Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was treated after coming into contact with Novichok and has since left the force after 18 years as an officer.
He added: “Nick didn’t go to work that day to become seriously unwell, he didn’t go to work that day to put his family at risk and lose all his worldly possessions, and lose a job he really cared about.
“It’s just such a shame an officer like Nick Bailey, who was a career officer I would say, someone I virtually started at the same time as, always wanted to be a police officer, he wanted to remain a cop until he retired.
“The actions of other individuals from a different country trying to get back at one of their own has led to one of our own have to feel like they could no longer do their job.
“He was serving the public when he became ill, he wanted to remain a police officer, we wanted to support him to do so, but he felt he was unable to do so.”