Decontamination, decon for short, will be an important part of response plans for a major event. Many of the potential threats that we have discussed will provide contamination of personnel, buildings, and equipment. Threat materials that become deposited on a surface are “contaminants,” and anything with contaminants present on it or in it becomes “contaminated.” I define “decontamination” as any process for removing or destroying contamination. Decontamination can also be considered as a critical part of the treatment protocol for many types of exposure to chemical agents. (Remember the ABCDD in Chapter 15.) Decontamination saves lives, prevents the spread of the problem, and returns vital equipment and responders back into operational service.
Although the reasons for decontamination are usually taken as an article of faith in the CBRN/HAZMAT community, such a level of understanding does not always permeate through the other sectors of the emergency-response community or the public. The specialist may need to articulate the reasons why decontamination may be necessary.
People may need to get CBRN materials off their skin, or they eventually will suffer ill effects. In some cases, decon is a lifesaving intervention, whereas in other situations decon will reduce the severity of injuries.
Decon can be seen as a component of scene management, ...