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Decontamination effectiveness and the necessity of innovation in a large-scale disaster simulation

Esli Osmanlliu, MDCM, FRCPC, Ilana Bank, MDCM, FRCPC, FAAP, Elene Khalil, MDCM, FRCPC, FAAP, Peter Nugus, PhD, Margaret Ruddy, RN, BSc Nursing, MMgmt, Meredith Young, PhD


Background: Chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) events threaten the health and integrity of human populations across the globe. Effective decontamination is a central component of CBRNE disaster response.

Objective: This paper provides an objective determination of wet decontamination effectiveness through the use of a liquid-based contaminant proxy and describes the mobilization and adaptation of easily available materials for the needs of decontamination in pediatric victims.

Methods: In this in-situ disaster simulation conducted at a pediatric hospital, decontamination effectiveness was determined through a liquid-based contaminant proxy, and standard burn charts to systematically estimate affected total body surface area (TBSA) in 39 adult simulated patients. Two independent raters evaluated TBSA covered by the contaminant before and after decontamination.

Results: On average, simulated patients had 59 percent (95 percent CI [53, 65]) of their TBSA covered by the simulated contaminant prior to decontamination. Following a wet decontamination protocol, the average reduction in TBSA contamination was 81 percent (95 percent CI [74, 88]). There was high inter-rater reliability for TBSA assessment (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.83, 95 percent CI [0.68, 0.92]. A modified infant bath was tested during the simulated decontamination of infant mannequins and thereafter integrated to the local protocol.

Conclusion: Wet decontamination can remove more than 80 percent of the initial contaminant found on adult simulated patients. The use of a liquid-based visual tool as a contaminant proxy enables the inexpensive evaluation of decontamination performance in a simulated setting. This paper also describes an innovative, low-cost adaptation of a local decontamination protocol to better meet pediatric needs.


decontamination, disaster, code orange, simulation, pediatric

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