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Thread: Effectiveness of decon?

  1. #1
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    Default Effectiveness of decon?

    The other day, several haz mat instructors and I were discussing decontamination. The discussion initially started with concerns about using Ops trained FFs to perform decon on Techs that were in Level A suits and exiting a hot zone. Several instructors were concerned Ops level staff didn't have enough knowledge about how to properly decon a responder in Level A; others were concerned Ops staff didn't understand how Techs may contaminate the Level A suit and miss contaminated areas or not effectively decon portions of the suit.

    I'm more of a numbers kind of guy, so I started thinking someone, somewhere must have conducted a study or experiment to determine the decontamination effectiveness of Ops and Tech level trained persons working in decon. My Google-fu is weak; I've been unable to locate a study on this subject.

    Two part question:

    1) Does anyone know if a study like this has ever been conducted? If so, where can I find it?

    2) What are your thoughts on using Ops trained staff to decon Techs in Level A CPC?

    Thank you for your time!


  2. #2
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    When we are short on Techs we use Ops level responders for decon. If the decon officer is a tech I see no problem at all. Let's face it how often do we go swimming in the product. Most of the time we only have residual product on us at best. A good shower and some scrubbing would normally be fine anyway. Also as long as you maintain a clean guy / dirty guy set up the technician should be in no danger from the product that might be left on the suit.

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    Thank you for the response. I see your point about having residual quantities of material on a suit. The reason the three of us were having the conversation was the Ops level guys were doing a horrible job with decon. For example, not scrubbing the helmet and portions of the scba, etc. Heck, I'd have felt better if the Ops guys would have at least used a heck of a lot of water to make up for the minimal scrub. The Tech guys did a much better job.

    One other thing we were able to dig up from the department hosting the training session was the department told us they didn't do much, if any, hazmat training for Ops beyond what was received in rookie school. Listening to the training cadre, it appeared most of their hazmat training focused on using the ERG, isolating the incident, and calling for the hazmat team.

    NOTE: the hazmat team received a good amount of training, we were just concerned with the capabilities of the Ops folks.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to respond.

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    Sounds like a training issue with the people doing decon in that particular department. Just like anything else, you only get better when you train on it. I have seen plenty of Tech level guys fake the funk when it comes to decon, because there is no consequence for getting it wrong. People usually let their guard down in training because improper decon there is not going to get anybody sick or hurt.

    It's really incumbent on the people running the drill to make sure that guys are doing a good job; those bad training habits will only carry over into a real incident.

    To answer your questions: I've not seen a study and I'm OK with Ops deconing techs.
    I used to be DCFDRescue 2. Forum changover locked me out.

    www.rescue2training.com

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    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    Agreed. Out of all of the responsibilities on a hazmat scene, decon is possibly the most simple (the actual act of decon that is). You are probably going to be using soap and water and using a truck brush. A monkey could do it. Test at the hot zone/warm zone line with a visual inspection and pH paper to see how well of a job you did.

    The fun part is watching people freak out over wet deconing those exposed to high vapor pressure products (ammonia, etc.).
    Lewiston2FF likes this.
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    Training and motivation, we use OPS guys most of the time on the decon line. This has worked well as we have a limited number of Techs. The decon is drilled on a couple times per year by everyone, more often by the guys at the Hazmat station. Our training for the Ops guys focuses on Decon, we know that is what they are probably going to be doing on the scene.

    1) I am not aware of a study

    2) Using Level A in the decon line, unless the product demends it - we have done it both ways. The upside to level A is the decon guys can sit with the suit unzipped, under a tent with an attendant until needed. (Heat is a constant issue here). However their mobility is limited and takes longer. In level B the decon guys have to be completely suited the entire time however there dexterity is better, and the decon is not only quicker, but seems to be more thorough. Lately we have been utilizing a hooded Level B in decon, this has given us the advantage of both.

    A good hazard assessment is the key.
    Amateurs Train Till They Get It Right, Professionals Train Till They Can't Get It Wrong.

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    Everyone that responded to my question, I appreciate the time spent providing responses. I haven't forgotten about this posting; however, I've spent the last few months finishing a college degree and traveling for my consulting job. I've been working full time and taking a full college course load for the last year. It's kicked my butt, but is now over!

    Rescue 2 Training: I agree, this is a significant training issue. When asked about hazmat training, those involved replied no additional hazmat training was received, after attending his/her initial Operations level training. Training, like bread, is a perishable commodity! If you don't use it, you will lose it.

    GTRider245: You are so right. Decon is NOT a highly technical operation. At least, for a majority of the products the fire service respond to. Nice to see your note to use simple items to verify the decon was effective (using pH paper, etc.).

    TwoHats: Thanks for the reminder about performing a good hazard assessment. All other operations should be focused on items identified in the assessment.

    Again, thank you to each of you for your time and responses!

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