Response professions rely on PPE to protect them from hazardous materials while they are doing their job. But their safety isn't assured until they are out of their gear clean. Inadvertent contamination of responders during doffing of PPE is not uncommon, and might be considered likely during the hectic conditions of a major incident.
The risks inherent in contaminated doffing can be reduced dramatically through (1) verification of decon procedure effectiveness and (2) training in the verified procedure using a performance-feedback loop. Both are achievable with the Contaminated Doffing Principles tools and techniques we use in our decontamination research and training.
Our technology-based solutions answer many questions critically important to responder health and safety. And, when applied to the business of training, testing and validation produce significant technology sets to help you. Click on the links for more detailed information.
You can't know when it will happen, but you must know your
decontamination will be completely successful. Is your decon
procedure effectiveness validated? Is your confidence high?
- Tracking Fluorescent Simulants for testing the efficacy of PPE and decon procedures.
- Color-Change Simulants for identifying failures in decon procedures and route of entry
- Multi-State Simulants to adjust decontamination methods to specific threats
- Multi-Color Simulants to detect cross-contamination among workers
- Aerosol Monitoring to detect the re-suspension of simulated contaminants during dirty-doffing
- Video Monitoring for documentation and attribution of procedures and their effects
- Three Dimensional Depiction to demonstrate the location and concentration of residual contamination.
Tracking Fluorescent Simulants: Even a minute amount of contaminant, particularly a WMD agent, can prove fatal if it reaches the skin. While first responders and others wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to separate themselves from the hazardous materials they work with, contaminants can reach the skin during doffing of the PPE and others can be cross-contaminated.
HSA uses fluorescing materials (20 different types) that simulate the behavior of
various contaminants in mass,density, viscosity,and other measures. These
simulants are non-toxic, and responsive to low levels of ultra-violet light, but
represent the worse case conditions for decontamination. By observing the
spread of these materials, we can clearly demonstrate whether or not a decon
procedure is effective and whether or not an individual's proficiency is adequate.
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Color-Change Simulants: These simulants change color when they have been in
contact with water. If it is found on the subject's skin in its original color, we know
the material reached the skin without coming in to contact with the decontaminating
liquid. If it has changed color, we know it had come into contact with the
decontaminating liquid. There is a very big difference in these two conditions.
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Florescent tracking can help
make certain you will reach
the "safe line" safely....every time
Multiple State Simulants: Contaminants can take the form of solid, liquid, or viscous goo, and so do our simulants. Yet, decontamination procedures frequently fail to account for the physical properties of hazardous materials. Properties such as viscosity can greatly affect the effectiveness of decontamination procedures. For example, it can be counter-productive, even to the point of spreading contamination, to use liquid to clean up a viscous agent. Used as training agents in conjunction with ultraviolet light analysis, these simulants reinforce the skills needed to ensure that decontamination procedures are appropriate to the range of properties displayed by hazardous materials.
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Multiple Color Simulants: Decontamination procedures require many people to work in close quarters. This gives rise to the possibility that one team member can inadvertently contaminate another, during the decontamination process and doffing of PPE. By using multiple simulants of different colors, each responsive to ultra-violet light, HSA can help determine whether decontamination and PPE procedures are effective in controlling the risk of cross-contamination. In our exercises, a different colored simulant is applied to each member of an entry team, and is then tracked for contamination of tools, PPE, or other gear.
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Aerosol Monoringit: Frequently, simply entering a decontaminated area can create movements that cause hazardous materials to become suspended or re-suspended in the air. These airborne particulates can land anywhere, or even be inhaled, resulted in unanticipated exposure to contaminants. HSA uses a laser interferometer for particle-counting in its decon research chamber. This permits us to identify procedural or operational causes of airborne toxic materials and to suggest changes to ensure decontamination procedures do not become the source of inadvertent exposure to airborne hazardous materials.
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Video Monitoring: Especially when small quantities of materials are involved, the source of residual contamination from a HAZMAT environment is often not obvious. During training and validation sessions, HSA uses high-resolution video-recording to document every action of the subject and the decon team members in the decontamination process. This provides a complete record that can be studied at length to determine the source of any contamination found on the subject's skin or on the clothing of the decon team members uncovered by our inspection with ultraviolet light.
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Three Dimensional Depiction: At the conclusion of the procedure validation process, we thoroughly examine the PPE and the individual wearing it for traces of simulated contaminants. We enter this information into an electronic database, and use 3-D computer graphics to generate a model of the human form for display on a high-resolution screen. This provides a powerful tool for analysis of dirty-doffing and other procedures, and permits the immediate development of a "lessons learned" debriefing.
The sample movie file may be opened in either Windows Media Player or QuickTime; in QuickTime, the slider at the bottom of the screen can be used to rotate the figure back and forth. For contrast purposes, the skin of the figure is rendered to resemble long underwear in a dark gray color.
Non-encapsulating level “B” garments can allow a combination of decon solutions and toxic materials to enter through the neck and wrist openings, as shown by the solid, light blue streaks.
Contaminated equipment, such as exposed high-pressure SCBA hoses, can brush against the wearer while doffing and decontaminating the protective garment. This type of inadvertent contact can transfer decon solutions or toxic materials to unprotected skin or duty uniforms as shown by the dashed, light blue line on the chest.
Responders’ hands go everywhere, and dirty gloves can transfer toxic materials through direct contact as shown by the solid red pattern above the right knee.
Dry materials can either fall on unprotected skin or clothing during doffing procedures, or migrate between ensemble surfaces, as shown by the textured red patterns on the back and ankles.
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