Human decontamination

Human decontamination is the process of removing hazardous materials from the human body, including chemicals, radioactive substances, and infectious material.

Persons suspected of being contaminated are usually separated by sex, and led into a decontamination tent, trailer, or pod, where they shed their potentially contaminated clothes in a strip-down room. Then they enter a wash-down room where they are showered. Finally they enter a drying and re-robing room to be issued clean clothing, or a jumpsuit or the like. Some more structured facilities include six rooms (strip-down, wash-down and examination rooms, for each of men's and women's side as per attached drawing). Some facilities, such as Modecs, and many others, are remotely operable, and function like "human car washes".

Mass decontamination is the decontamination of large numbers of people. The ACI World Aviation Security Standing Committee describes a decontamination process thus, specifically referring to plans for Los Angeles authorities:

The disinfection/decontamination process is akin to putting humans through a car wash after first destroying their garments. Los Angeles World Airports have put in place a contingency plan to disinfect up to 10,000 persons who might have been exposed to biological or chemical substances.

Most hospitals in the United States are prepared for handling a large influx of patients from a terrorist attack. Volunteer hospital decontamination teams are common. These teams are specially trained to set up showers or washing equipment, to wear personal protective equipment, and to ensure safety of both the victims and the community during the response. From a planning perspective it must be remembered that first responders in Level A or B personal protective equipment (PPE) will have limited working duration, typically 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Typically these teams use decontamination showers built into the hospital or tents which are set up outside in order to decontaminate individuals. Beyond terrorism incidents, common exposures may be related to factory spills, agricultural incidents, and vehicle accidents. Incidents are common in both urban and rural communities. Hospital decontamination is a component of the Hospital Incident Command System and required in the standards set forth by the Joint Commission.

This page was last edited on 16 May 2018, at 16:22 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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