There Are Different
Types of Emergency Decontamination:
Decontamination: Hazmat Response Team / Fire Department Personnel
Using PPE (Requires Containment of Run-Off)
Decontamination (Requires Containment of Run-Off)
- Gross Decontamination
Using an Elevated Masterstream (pictured above)
With both ambulatory and gross decontamination, you direct, control
and contain run-off away from both responders and victims dependent
upon the specific product(s) / chemical agent(s) involved.
Contained run-off from either Technical Decon or Non-Ambulatory Decon
enables response team personnel to hazcat the water run-off to test
for the presence of chemical agents or hazardous materials.
Gross Decontamination /
Elevated Master Stream Considerations:
- For large numbers of
contaminated victims use hose lines and master streams such as deck
guns. One of the more popular methods to use in the event your
department does not have acces to an elevated master stream is using
- One of the most effect
methods for providing Gross Decontamination is the use of Elevated
Master Streams using fog nozzles with LOW pressure to rain the water
down on the victims like a giant shower.
- Truck Company
personnel should routinely flush and maintain Fog Nozzles due to
foreign materials (rocks, debris) from blocking the interior of the
nozzle, creating an uneven spray pattern which creates a more
forceful flow verses a fine shower mist.
Solutions of Choice:
- The premise remains
the same (blot, strip, flush and cover), but the availability of
various decontamination solutions can enhance the effectiveness of
the decontamination process.
- Personnel can be
flushed of agent using just water, or soap and water as the soap
will help lift the contaminant. Remember that any covering can trap
contamination, so washing must be complete.
to be too graphic, but an example of this was an acid leak that
contaminated several office workers. One of the victims was a young
lady who was forced to remove all of her clothes as a result of the
exposure and the resulting burning sensation on her skin.
Firefighters, respecting her modesty allowed the lady to keep on her
panties. However, the victim had an absorbment pad in place and ended
up suffering 3rd degree burns to her genital area because the pad had
been soaked in both water and product.
- If available, a 1:10
solution of household bleach is most effective in removing and
neutralizing contamination (one quart per 2.5 gallons of water, or 5
gallons to a 55 gallon drum).
- Wounds that are more
than superficial should NOT be decontaminated using bleach.
contamination does not require the use of a hypochlorite solution.
- Soap and water is the
next best decontamination solution over water with a solution of
household bleach (0.5%) being the preferred decon solution.
- WARNING: Think
about having someone spray a bleach solution into your eyes, onto
mucous membranes or on your skin. The potential exists where you can
actually cause more harm than good. Be careful!
- DO NOT WAIT for
soap or bleach to become available.
- USE COPIOUS AMOUNTS
OF WATER IMMEDIATELY!
You must communicate the need for assistance and what these people
- ARMS OUT / LEGS
Ambulatory responders or victims must place their Arms Out and Legs
- TOP DOWN WASH:
Wash from the top down.
- IF BIOLOGICAL OR
RADIOLOGICAL, RINSE WHILE REMOVING CLOTHES:
If you have a suspected biological or radiological agent, start
rinsing the people off first as they remove their clothes.
- This will entrain
the agent on the clothes and reduce the tendency for the agent to
stick to their bodies due to static charge.
- This will reduce the
chances for particles becoming airborne.
Provide Cover for
Victims / Patients:
- Use whatever is
available from your local area.
- Obtain blankets, large
towels, sheets from local stores, hospitals, hotels and motels or
even table clothes from restaurants.
- Plan Ahead!
Contact local hospitals for used operating room / hospital green
scrubs (pants and shirt), disposable coveralls, booties, towels and
blankets. You can also create emergency disposable clothing when
dealing with large incidents by cutting holes out of large black
trash bags for both the head and arms.
Establish TTT: Triage,
Treatment and Transport Area
- Establish a clean zone
(Cold Zone) large enough to accommodate all casualties and with
appropriate security precautions to maintain control of the area.
- Ensure that all
responders are aware of the signs and symptoms of hazardous
materials, biological or radiological exposure.
- Maintain ABC's,
minimizing exposure to casualties.
- Assume victims may
still have some contamination on them.
- Wear PPE and use the
appropriate level of respiratory protection, dependent upon the
- If available, use
auto-inject pharmaceuticals which are required for stabilizing
casualties exposed to chemical agents.
- Use mass transit to
assist in transporting casualties.
- If you are exposed
after emergency decontamination and Technical Decontamination is not
available you will need to perform a Self-Decon.
- Consider yourself
- Take appropriate
pre-cautions and go through the decontamination process yourself.
- Minimize exposure to
firefighting clothing and positive pressure SCBA's (Self Contained
- Rubber / Latex Gloves
- Limit the number of
responders in contact with the victim(s).
- Keep clothing away
from victim's face during removal (to keep casualties from breathing
in the agent(s).)
- Remove / cut clothing
from head to toe, front to back, keeping the clothing away from the
Considerations for Ambulatory
- Isolate any refusals from the
individuals (citizens) contaminated to prevent further
- Collect personal items and
place in large clear polybags, identifying the outside of the bags
using a permanent ink marker.
- Bagged clothing should be
placed into drums
Guidelines For Run-Off
Produced From Emergency Decontamination:
- If run-off is not
contained, notify agency responsible for handling storm water
- For some chemical
agents, it is expected that the agents will be hydrolyzed to some
extent and diluted by the large amounts of water and not present a
major downstream hazard.
- For radiation, expect
water to spread the contamination downstream.
- For biological agents,
downstream contamination will vary, depending on the type of agent
and how it survives in that environment.
- If run-off goes into
the storm drainage system, it may be necessary to notify entities
downstream as a precaution.
- If run-off goes into
the sanitary system, notify the water utility providers.
Establish segregated lanes
- Symptomatic from Asymptomatic
- Male from Female
- Ambulatory from Non-Ambulatory
Note: Take into consideration
families, small children, the elderly, handicapped persons (blind,
persons in wheelchairs, speech impaired, etc.) language issues.
Take into account
modesty covers for patient / victims and the public eye (news media).
- Modesty covers can be
easily constructed using large black plastic trash bags. Simply cut
a hole (actually a half circle) along the 'bottom' of the bag to
enable an individuals head to stick out once the bag has been
inverted. Place a strip of duct tape along both 'shoulders' to
reinforce the bags seam. An ambulatory patient / victim can remove
contaminated clothing while ensuring that modesty considerations are
- Modesty covers can be
quickly established using aerial ladders with salvage covers hung
from the bed ladder extended horizontal to the ground.
- Modesty covers can be
quickly established using pike poles, ground ladders, or ropes
between apparatus and covered with salvage covers.
- Don't forget news
helicopters. ( "Eye in the Sky")
If you want to
pre-package emergency victim modesty cover/ belongings kits, include the
- 35-Gallon .04 ml
- Large ziplock baggie
for personal effects.
- Disposable Tyvek
suits for temporary clothing.
- Information Card
indicating what was collected from the patient / victim.
Assessing levels of
- An inexpensive way to
determine whether turnouts, PPE or a civilians clothes have been
contaminated is to use large .04 ml thickness polybags to contain
the clothing or equipment. Twirl the bag to trap and seal air, using
duct tape to hold the bag closed. Double and bend the bunched bag
top and re-apply more duct tape. Sit the bag out in the sun,
allowing heat to expand the polybag, You know it's ready when you
see water droplets forming on the inside of the bag.
- If your dealing with
an organophosphate incident for example, have a small piece of duct
tape ready and puncture the bag with a draeger colormetric indicator
tube. Pump the draeger as indicated and you will get a visual
confirmation for the presence of hazardous materials.
- Using clear polybags
enables you to see what's inside verses having to open the bag.
- Using polybags with a
thickness of at least .04 ml ensures a strong bag that will handle
movement and transportation.
- Don't forget to keep
permanent markers for labelling bags with name, incident name, date
- May need to move decon
indoors (e.g, school gym and showers, car wash, etc.)
- Emergency Shelters