Managing mass casualties and decontamination

Environ Int. 2014 Nov;72:37-45. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Mar 29.


Careful planning and regular exercising of capabilities is the key to implementing an effective response following the release of hazardous materials, although ad hoc changes may be inevitable. Critical actions which require immediate implementation at an incident are evacuation, followed by disrobing (removal of clothes) and decontamination. The latter can be achieved through bespoke response facilities or various interim methods which may utilise water or readily available (dry, absorbent) materials. Following transfer to a safe holding area, each casualty's personal details should be recorded to facilitate a health surveillance programme, should it become apparent that the original contaminant has chronic health effects.

Keywords: CBRN; Decontamination; Disrobing; Evacuation; Hazardous materials; Health surveillance; Medical countermeasures; Toxic industrial chemicals (TICs); Triage; Zoning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biohazard Release / prevention & control
  • Chemical Hazard Release / prevention & control
  • Decontamination / standards*
  • Disaster Planning / standards
  • Humans
  • Mass Casualty Incidents / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Mass Casualty Incidents / prevention & control*
  • Radioactive Hazard Release / prevention & control