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by the NFCC

Control measure
Controlled evacuation of contaminated casualties

Control measure knowledge

The first phase for mass decontamination (MD) is the controlled evacuation of contaminated casualties, by directing or removing them from the scene of contamination.

The removal of casualties from the scene of contamination and point of release (normally in or around the hot zone), will significantly reduce the likelihood of any further contamination occurring. Likewise exposure through the casualties' unprotected respiratory systems will be reduced.

An area away from the scene of contamination (normally in the warm zone) should be identified. Where possible, this should be upwind, and ideally uphill, of the scene of contamination. Any ambulant casualties should be directed to this area as quickly as possible, with the minimum of direct physical contact from emergency responders. It is essential that responders communicate effectively with casualties to gain their confidence and co-operation.

Controlled evacuation of contaminated animals

The owner or keeper of a companion animal, such as a dog, should be instructed to restrain the animal and remain in the warm zone. If the owner or keeper of the animal cannot be identified or is incapacitated, it should be handed over to a police officer.
The decisions regarding contaminated animals should be managed by the police, in liaison with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl), veterinary surgeons or animal welfare charities. However, in the interim and if disrobe packs are available, it may be appropriate for the owner, keeper or police officer to be provided with a pack for the animal. The packs contain gloves which could be used for handling the animal and wipes that may reduce the amount of contaminant on the animal.

It is not foreseen that decontamination of animals would be carried out using fire and rescue service mass decontamination resources. If decontamination of an animal is deemed viable and necessary, special arrangements would need to be made for the process.

For further information see:

Incidents involving animals: Physical control or restraint of the animal

Incidents involving animals: Immediate first aid for animal

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide equipment or access to information to determine and monitor wind speed and direction

  • Consider providing equipment, such as speakers or loudhailers, to enable communication with casualties from a distance

  • Provide an initial supply of disrobe packs

  • Have agreements in place with other agencies to establish responsibilities if companion animals are contaminated during a hazardous materials incident

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Determine and monitor wind speed and direction, using appropriate equipment, or other sources of information such as CHEMET

  • Identify an appropriate area for the casualties to be evacuated to

  • Evacuate casualties to the identified area 

  • Initiate and maintain communication with the casualties, to provide instructions and keep them informed

  • Issue disrobe packs

  • Provide regular updates to NRFC on incident development and casualty numbers

  • Instruct the owner, keeper or police officer to restrain the contaminated companion animal and remain in the warm zone

  • Issue the owner, keeper or police officer with a disrobe pack to assist with handling the animal and to reduce the amount of contaminant on it

  • Request police assistance for managing the onward care of a contaminated companion animal