Modelling mass casualty decontamination systems informed by field exercise data

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Oct 16;9(10):3685-710. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9103685.


In the event of a large-scale chemical release in the UK decontamination of ambulant casualties would be undertaken by the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS). The aim of this study was to track the movement of volunteer casualties at two mass decontamination field exercises using passive Radio Frequency Identification tags and detection mats that were placed at pre-defined locations. The exercise data were then used to inform a computer model of the FRS component of the mass decontamination process. Having removed all clothing and having showered, the re-dressing (termed re-robing) of casualties was found to be a bottleneck in the mass decontamination process during both exercises. Computer simulations showed that increasing the capacity of each lane of the re-robe section to accommodate 10 rather than five casualties would be optimal in general, but that a capacity of 15 might be required to accommodate vulnerable individuals. If the duration of the shower was decreased from three minutes to one minute then a per lane re-robe capacity of 20 might be necessary to maximise the throughput of casualties. In conclusion, one practical enhancement to the FRS response may be to provide at least one additional re-robe section per mass decontamination unit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Computer Simulation
  • Decontamination*
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Female
  • Firefighters
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Casualty Incidents
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Young Adult