Sample Essay on Decontamination and Victim Chain of Survival

Decontamination and Victim Chain of Survival


The article analyzes decontamination and victim chain of survival in emergencies which contain substances that are poisonous to victims and the various categories and processes of decontamination. It is evident from the article that workplace hazardous material (HazMat) is well-defined in standards and regulations whereas emergency response is equally defined in practices such as first aid. The likelihood of an incident involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear agents has increased in recent years and thus the need for a victim decontamination program.  The review summarizes the article, describes elements of a solid emergency response program and gives the importance of decontaminating those affected.

The authors start by discussing the five categories of decontamination which include;

Emergency decontaminationIt is reducing contamination of victims who are in life-threatening situations with the making of a decontaminating corridor where those affected are attended to. This is what workplace emergency responders perform when they assist an employee in an emergency shower until he or she gets medical service.

Gross decontamination- this is the first part of the emergency decontamination of those who have been affected and the first step in technical decontamination of those responders who are leaving the place affected via a decontamination corridor.

Mass decontamination- it refers to decontaminating many people in the least time possible in order to contain the situation to a safe level.

Technical decontamination- it is a method of decreasing contamination to a level that is achievable and does not pose danger to the victims. It is conducted in support of an emergency respond to operations and to prevent materials which are hazardous from affecting the victims. This type of HazMat victims involves rinsing of the surface than it occurs in an emergency shower at the place of work.

Definitive decontamination- this is the last category which is performed in the hospital as part of treatment and aids in preventing secondary decontamination. Victims must be completely decontaminated to avoid secondary decontamination which may be as a result of the transfer of materials to the hospital setting.

The article also analyzes how the victims who have been affected by poisonous substances may be assisted. Hospital victim contamination can occur in the hospital if proper care is not taken. Secondary contamination can occur when hospital personnel, other patients and property are exposed to hazardous materials due to improper decontamination of victims transported to the facility. Hospital attendants are the first people to receive the victims and thus with less training in emergency decontamination, due to the assumption that EMS experts will perform proper decontamination before transportation.

Elements of a Solid Emergency Response Program

A solid emergency response plan should include; hardware, information, internal and external communication, coordination with EMS upon arrival and training. Firstly, hardware is crucial for a solid emergency response plan because it aids in the functioning and appropriately located emergency shower systems, for instance, absorbents on reserve and dedicated for emergency-only use. All hardware must be inspected regularly, maintained and tested from time to time for effective functioning. Secondly, it should also have information, safety data sheets and a site-specific emergency response plan at a minimum including HazMat-specific procedures for highly hazardous materials such as hydrofluoric acid fat that requires rapid response.

Thirdly, it must also have internal communications tools because HazMaf victims must be able to get help and responders must be able to talk to team members. This can only be achieved if we have an efficient internal communication. Depending on operation size and complexity, internal communications can be as simple as verbally shouting across the room, using public address systems or flow alarms linked to the central alarm systems with security experts on staff able to monitor and notify workplace responders.

Fourthly, an effective solid emergency response plan should also have external communication so as to aid responders to communicate effectively. If telephones at the site require dialing a special number for an outside line, then this external communication must be included in employee training. “Caller identification should be present at the 9-1-1 call center, and the physical address must be either known by employees or posted in visible locations in the workplace so that it can be communicated to the dispatcher” (Gunderson et al., 2014). Developing good communication, for instance, a social psychology perspective can improve the way the situation is managed and responders notified.

Fifthly, coordinating with EMS upon arrival is also another crucial component of an effective solid emergency response program. Workplace responders who deal with emergency situations must greet EMS on arriving, direct them to a particular place of the emergency and provide them with information that is accurate about the emergency situation. It is advisable that fire and ambulance services may be availed separately, and the greet-direct-communicate cycle may need to be repeated.

Lastly, training is also another key company of an effective solid emergency response program. Workplace emergency responders must know of procedures, proper use of their resources and effective communication to EMS during an emergency. Workplace
Emergency responders must also understand the role of EMS and how they can best work together on site. This can only be achieved if effective training is put in place and made to be part of the solid emergency response program.

Significance of decontaminating victims. Decontamination involves those who have potentially come into contact with a contaminant removing their clothing and going through a showering process. Proper decontamination of victims is vital because it aids in removing contaminants from the skin of a victim thus preventing those affected victim from suffering further ill-effects (Arter et al., 2013). Failure to carry out decontamination process to those affected could lead to an increased numbers of casualties and loss of many lives. Effective management of incidents involving mass decontamination is likely to be crucial to reduce numbers of casualties, and ultimately to save lives.

Proper decontamination is also crucial because it helps to protect emergency responders, medical personnel, family members, and others from secondary transfer exposures. This helps to reduce the side effects of the hazardous materials and the number of people who are likely to be affected. Those who are related to the victims or are tasked with helping them are protected from poisonous chemicals through the process of decontamination. It also helps in preventing those who are affected by the chemicals from spreading contamination over additional areas of their body.


An emergency response plan is crucial in ensuring that those who are affected by hazardous substances in the likelihood of an emergency are attended to in an effective way. A good emergency response plan should contain all the crucial elements of internal and external communication. Decontaminating a victim is crucial because it aids in removing contaminants from the skin of a victim thus preventing those affected from suffering further side-effects. It also reduces the risk of secondary contamination of other people and places thus reducing the number of people affected


Arter, H., Drury, J., Amlôt, R., Rubin, G. J., & Williams, R. (2013). Perceived Responder Legitimacy and Group Identification Predict Cooperation and Compliance in a Mass Decontamination Field Exercise. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 35(6), 575-585. 

Gunderson, S., Helikson, C., & Heffner, M. (2014). HazMat Emergencies. (Cover story). Professional Safety, 59(3), 40-46.