Roundtable: Mass Casualty Decon

By John "Skip" Coleman

This isn't your grandfather's world! Things have changed and changed not for the better in some instances. What was simpler and slightly more laid-back is now a bit complicated and tense. 

There is the potential for bad stuff to happen. Bad stuff in the way of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) utilization. For the most part, in the distant past (50 years ago or so) you worried about a nuclear bomb being dropped from an Eastern government. That was about it. No one would dare send troops across our border. 

Today, anything goes. Threats from explosive devices that can disperse explosive concussions, nuclear agents, and chemical or even biological agents. There is the threat of contamination of drinking water or food supplies to disruption of railways, bridges, and other infrastructure. 

All of this calls for us as first responders to be more technical and more prepared. The government has developed plans to handle these emergencies. In them, we as firefighters will be required to among other things, handle mass casualty decontamination

This month's question: Has your department made plans and trained you to handle mass casualty decon in the event of a manmade or even a natural disaster?

Register and log in to the Fire Engineering Web site and leave your comments below.

Skip Coleman: Firefighting RoundtableJohn "Skip" Coleman retired as assistant chief from the Toledo (OH) Department of Fire and Rescue. He is a technical editor of Fire Engineering. a member of the FDIC Educational Advisory Board; and author of Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer (Fire Engineering, 1997), Managing Major Fires (Fire Engineering, 2000), Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer, Second Edition (Fire Engineering, 2008) and Searching Smarter (Fire Engineering 2011) and 2011 recipient of the FDIC Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award.

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