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Mass Decontamination

Mass Decontamination is an important part of today’s functions of the emergency responder. This is due to the fact that live patients can’t wait for Technical Decon to arrive. There are four types of decon, emergency decon, mass, decon, technical decon, and hospital decon. . When we look at the Differences in Emergency Decon and Mass Decon there are almost the same except mass decontamination is for more people. In decontamination our focus is on wetting the victim down with copious amounts of water, stripping the victim, flushing the victim, and then covering the victim. When flushing the victim we want to avoid over spray or splashing when possible. Keeping mind that we have a lot of people that need decontaminated in a hurry. Stripping the victim is important because 80% of the contaminant will be on the clothing. One way to control run off is to perform your procedure in a grassy area, this will not only control run off but limit the spread of the contaminate. TIME is critical, emergency responders want to use the procedure that will cause the least harm, use that fastest approach, and do the most good for the majority of people. Mass Casualty Decon general principles are expect at least a 5:1 ration of unaffected to affected casualties, decontaminate victims as soon as possible, and more the removal the better. Using water for flushing generally is the best methods for mass decon and you as the emergency responder should be decontaminated as soon as possible.
Emergency Responders have all the tools to make mass decontamination more effective. For one using an aerial ladder with tarps tied to fire hose for privacy. The victims can move towards the fog stream at the end of the ladder and begin the first steps of decon. The tarps are not only used for privacy during the stripping process and it allows for easier coordination. However, many rural departments across the country do not have Ariel ladders. Another method that can be used is park two engines side by side each other and remove the caps from the 2 ½ inch discharge, this will create a low pressure broken stream allowing this to begin the process of flushing. This also minimizes emergency responders contact with the victims. A few other ways to mass decon are: 1 ¾ inch fire hose or any device to make a water curtain.

One thing we need to do as emergency responders is think outside the box, if there is a large incident in your community. How would you handle it? How would you decontaminate your citizens or your loved ones? Again, think out of the box and train on this before it happens or before it is too late.
Remember be safe and train!
Todd McKee

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