alert - warning

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4.6 Decontamination Support

For biological incidents linked to a discrete location, decontamination of all affected individuals at the primary incident location may not be possible even when warranted. (For additional discussion, see KPF 3: Control the Spread of Disease.) Decontamination facilities may not be readily available during the early stages of self-directed population evacuations, and as a result, contaminated individuals may leave the contaminated zone and seek entry to mass care facilities such as shelters and CRCs. As a result, such facilities may require capabilities for both health screening and decontamination to accommodate those who were not decontaminated at the primary incident location or another location prior to transport to the mass care site, and to prevent contaminated persons from spreading infection to others.

A coordinated approach to decontamination and infection control procedures should be determined by incident command, public health officials, and SMEs, and should be communicated to the public and to all mass care facilities. Such coordination is essential to maintaining calm in survivors and reducing the number of additional people seeking medical care, which could otherwise strain available resources and complicate public messaging. Public communications should clearly describe recommended actions for those leaving an incident site with potential exposure, those sheltering-in-place, and those displaced. Such recommendations may include procedures for self-decontamination and containment of potentially contaminated clothing or personal items. Animal health officials should contribute to public communications on recommended actions for household pets and service animals that may have been exposed and provide additional details on available veterinary care.

Figure 33: First responders performing animal decontamination and guiding human decontamination
Figure 33: First responders performing animal decontamination and guiding human decontamination79

What Will You Need to Know?

  • Who can provide decontamination support and where will decontamination occur?
  • Where will decontamination waste and contaminated items be collected, moved, or stored until proper disposal?


79. (Left) (n.d.) Cow [Photograph].; (right) n.d.) Horse Decon [Photograph].; (right) (2012, August 9). Decon at Vibrant Response 13 [Photograph].