7.1. Preparation

The basic requirements for the decontamination station should be confirmed. There should be access to the Hot Zone, usable water supply, possibility to collect contaminated liquids and waste and it should be located upwind from the actual incident. Access to the first aid facilities has to be arranged to ensure prompt commence or continuance of the emergency medical care.

7.2. Establishing phase

When establishing the decontamination station, adequate amount of assistance personnel and required PPE level equipment available should be confirmed. Entry and exit points, areas that can be contaminated (railings, doors, hatches etc.) and areas which are not allowed to enter should be clearly marked and guided (clean and unclean sites).

Find out HNS involved and possible HNS specific decontamination processes. Amount of the contaminated persons, type of contamination, injured persons and possible casualties (e.g. to be carried with stretches) onboard DV should be found out when planning decontamination process.

7.2.1. Arrangements

Decontamination station facilities contains following:

  • Decontamination entering procedures (the first wash down and assistance to embark)
  • Place for leaving the extra protective equipment and possible tools / waiting area (responder decontamination) and place for leaving the personal belongings (emergency decontamination)
  • Respiration filters, supplementary Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBA) or other breathing air supply
  • First stage decontamination – general wash; near to the point to enter SRU or on the Warm Zone onboard DV (w. collection and wash-down tank)
  • Second stage decontamination – precise wash with warm water and detergent and precise rinse (w. collection and wash-down tank)
  • Check-up point to search for possible HNS remaining (responder decontamination, emergency decontamination when possible)
7.2.2. Service and treatment

The service and treatment facilities to the Cold Zone should be established. Access to the Cold Zone should be via airlock (if onboard SRU) or other arrangements that ensure reliable decontamination process. Clean and unclean sites (e.g. facilities to undress the protective clothing) should be clearly marked and isolated from each other. Supplementary clothes, equipment etc. should be available on the service area. Prior entering to the clean side, persons must undress their protective clothing and leave it to the containers or other packages reserved for contaminated clothing.

7.3. Decontamination processes
7.3.1. Emergency decontamination

Emergency decontamination should be carried out as soon as possible to minimize the effect of the HNS by removing contaminant from casualties. Emergency decontamination includes several phases e.g. removing and bagging the contaminated clothing, slow rinse with water (injured parts of the body have to be protected), emergency medical care / first aid, dressing up and medical transport. Emergency decontamination can be carried out through the mass decontamination line or through the responder decontamination procedure.

Lifesaving medical measures have priority over (coarse) decontamination. Self-protection of the medical personnel must be assured.

Notice that only patients who have been decontaminated will be transported. Confirm that receiving hospitals are informed about the situation.

7.3.2. Responder decontamination

The decontamination process consist both physical and chemical methods to minimize the impact of the possible contaminant. This process can be divided to the first stage decontamination, second stage decontamination, check-up point and the final phase decontamination.

On the first stage of decontamination process most of the contaminant should be washed down. This phase consist washing and dilution e.g. with mobile emergency chemical shower to flush clothing and equipment onboard the DV or at the SRU entering point. Second stage wash should be done with detergent/agent, brushes and with warm water. After through rinse, result of the decontamination should be verified in the check-up point by sweep test or by the monitoring devices.

The final phase of the decontamination includes undressing and packing up contaminated clothing (chemical protective suits etc.) and transfer to the support area for service and treatment facilities.

7.3.3. SRU and equipment

Possibilities and procedures to decontaminate the SRU and equipment are highly dependent of the type, quality and quantity of the HNS involved. Find out the equipment needed for the decontamination with consulting the experts. Equipment inventory (equipment used in the incident) should be done and documented for each used device separately.

7.3.4. Decontaminated waste

The facility and containers etc. onboard for the contaminated waste such as equipment, clothing and fluids should be established. Plan and arrange appropriate handling of the contaminated waste ashore before arriving to the port of destination.