Improvised decontamination

Control Measure Knowledge

Research of decontamination methods has shown that disrobing and dry decontamination could have a significant role from an injury mitigation and lifesaving perspective.  This is dependent on the chemical contaminant involved (i.e. whether it was caustic or not) and the availability of appropriate absorbent materials in sufficient quantities. In such circumstances, dry decontamination is likely to be most effective if undertaken by first responders, as soon as possible and before specialist resources are likely to be able to arrive.

Rolls of absorbent tissue ‘blue roll’ and plastic bags have been provided to fire and rescue services (FRS) specifically for this purpose. However, any dry absorbent material may be used, for example: kitchen towel; toilet paper; paper tissues; towels and clean rags; strips of blanket or sheeting etc. Other material, such as cat litter and dry soil can also be used. All waste material, arising from the dry decontamination process, should be bagged and left in situ if possible.

Staff should be mindful, that the casualty’s hair may still hold some contaminant and a method of improvised wet decontamination of the hair should be considered if there is good reason to believe it may be contaminated.  Likewise, corrosive materials will also initially require a wet decontamination which can be applied via an improvised or interim decontamination solution.

For specific advice on acid attacks see National Operational Guidance: Health Hazards – Corrosive materials

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions