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Old Boy Explains Salisbury Nerve Agent Incident

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There was standing room only in the Leverhulme Suite of Bolton School’s Sixth Form Centre as Old Boy Nick Gent (1969-1979) delivered a fascinating talk about his work at Public Health England and his involvement with the nerve agent incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury earlier this year. 

Dr Gent is one of only a very small team of senior medical advisors on high threat chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear issues in the country and as Deputy Head of Public Health England’s Emergency Response Department he has played a key role in most of the chemical, biological and radiological incidents in the UK in recent years. 

Dr Gent praised the education he received at Bolton School and his former teachers, saying that in his work he still regularly uses the basic principles of biology, chemistry and physics which he learnt here and urged any aspiring medics to study physics, as he believes an understanding of this is a good basis for any medical career. 

He went on to give an enthralling account of his role in the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, describing how a multi-agency response is coordinated when a major incident such as this is declared. He explained what a nerve agent actually is, how they work and what the signs and symptoms of nerve agent exposure are, as well as giving details of how to treat the patients. 

After the talk, several Sixth Form pupils stayed behind to ask thoughtful and pertinent questions. 

Dr Gent then spent the afternoon speaking to Sixth Form physicists on “Polonium-210: a Case Study.”

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