Mass Decontamination for First Responders

This two-hour drill gives readers the understanding of the procedures for setting up mass decontamination operations.

     b. Bags or containers to collect contaminated clothing

  3. Spare clothing for individuals who have to be disrobed

     a. Medical scrubs

     b. Coveralls

     c. Hospital gowns

     d. Sweats

     e. Blankets or sheets

     f. Opaque plastic bags

     g. Additional items for colder conditions

  4. Other items

     a. Plastic electrical ties

     b. Identification tags or bracelets

     c. Paper and writing instruments (pens, pencils, permanent markers) to record personal information

     d. Clipboards

     e. Scissors or trauma shears to assist in clothing removal



A. Setup should be upwind and uphill from incident and in warm zone

B. Decontamination Corridor Layout

  1. Utilize two pumpers to form the decontamination corridor

      a. Place parallel approximately 20 feet apart

      b. Have pump panels facing outward

  2. Place ladders

      a. between apparatus at each end so that covers or other material can be attached or draped to

          provide privacy

      b. In middle of and parallel with apparatus on the ladders between apparatus to create a barrier to

          separate males from females

  3. Have an area at the entry point for disrobing

       a. This is the best means of removing contaminants

       b. Should disrobe down to undergarments

       c. If unwilling to disrobe, decon anyway

       d. Have a means of collecting contaminated clothing such as overpack drums, trash containers or

           boxes with liners, or large plastic bags

       e. Have clear sealable plastic bags for personal items and valuables that should not get wet -

          should have a means of identifying the bags

  4. Have separate areas for males and females

      a. Separate by divider in middle

      b. Consider separate decontamination stations for males and females

      c. Have multiple water discharge points

  5. Have replacement clothing at exit point

      a. Clothing should be simple to don

      b. Clothing must be able to fit different sized people

  6. Containment of runoff

      a. If possible and as soon as personnel and equipment become available, an effort should be made

          to contain runoff

      b. The initial effort should concentrate on contamination reduction of exposed or potentially

         exposed victims

C. Injured Persons

  1. Individuals with injuries need decontamination prior to being treated on the scene and transported

      to a medical facility

  2. Remove as much clothing as possible

  3. May require decontamination while on stretchers

  4. Treatment takes place in cold zone



A. Placing Apparatus

  1. Place pumpers parallel approximately 20 feet  apart with pump panels facing outward to create

     decontamination corridor

  2. If aerial apparatus utilized, please near pumper with aerial device extended slightly so that master

      stream device situated over decontamination corridor

  3. Apparatus should not be running to avoid carbon monoxide buildup in decontamination corridor

      a. Utilize hydrant pressure if available and adequate

      b. Have pressure supplied by another engine aware from the decontamination area

B. Equipment Setup

  1. Place 2-1/2-inch combination nozzles on all discharges facing decontamination corridor

  2. Set nozzles to wide angle fog pattern - nozzle pressure should be approximately 60 PSI

  3. May also fabricate device to attach to apparatus-mounted master stream device to create shower


  4. Place ladders between apparatus at each end so that covers or other material can be attached to

      provide privacy - use rope or plastic electrical ties to secure covers or drape them over ladders

  5. Place ladder and salvage in middle of decontamination corridor parallel with apparatus on ladders

      between apparatus to create a barrier to separate males from females