Skip Navigation

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Radiation Emergency Medical Management (REMM)

Photos of Decontamination Facilities and Procedures
Print this page

    Decon tent 1 Photo 1: Decontamination (Decon) Tent
  • Staff removes patient clothes first, then slides litter patient across rollers from entrance to exit, while performing shower
  • Separate lanes for adult males (left) and for adult females and children (right) inside closed left and right tent flaps on either side of the litter rollers
    Decon tent 2
    Photo 2: Responders in Portable Decon Tent
  • Mock litter patient rolled across platform inside tent where showering is performed
  • Responders wearing full military chem/bio/rad protective gear (Military MOPP 4 gear)
    Decon Facility Photo 3: Responders and mock patient in decontamination area of fixed facility
  • Responders wearing Tyvek® body suits as mass casualty exercise for contamination only
    Decon Facility Photo 4: Responders and mock patient in radiation decontamination decon tent
  • Millitary staff during exercise use water hoses to decontamination non-ambulatory patient.
  • Staff is wearing full military chem/bio/rad protective gear (Military MOPP 4 gear)
Source: CAPT Judith L. Bader, MD, USPHS, 10/21/2004

Summary of decontamination procedures
(see Decontamination Procedures for details)

Key Info:
key icon

1. Decontamination should not delay or impede stabilization of any patient.
2. Removal of all clothing can reduce contamination on the patient up to 90%.
  • Survey patients/victims with radiation survey meter prior to decontamination to document location and level of contamination
  • Non-ambulatory victim decontamination
    • Medical triage officer is stationed close to tent entrance to be sure needed lifesaving procedures are begun before decontamination
    • Decon staff rolls non-ambulatory contaminated litter patient along center ramp from entrance to exit while performing decontamination shower (see coiled, red hoses hanging from tent ceiling, Photo 2)
    • Carefully remove clothing from patient/victim
      • Property of each individual should be bagged individually in airtight container
      • Label property bags with patient/victim's name, date, and time
      • Storage of property must be secure, particularly if forensic inquiry is likely
      • On the exit side of the decontamination line, provide warm, clean clothes (or sheets/blankets)
    • See decon cycle description below
  • Ambulatory victim decontamination
    • Victims pass through sides of decon tent behind tent flaps
    • Hanging shower lines inside side panels (not shown Photo 1 and Photo 2) facilitate showering with warm water, soap, shampoo
    • After each decon cycle through tent
      • Medical triage officer reassesses patients, especially litter patients, to be sure they are still stable
      • Radiation safety personnel re-scans patient/victim with radiation survey meter and records information on radiation survey chart (PDF - 49 KB)
      • Radiation counts in excess of 2-3 x background levels may indicate need for additional decon cycles
      • Cease decontamination of skin and wounds when
        • Radiation survey reveals less than twice background
        • When there is no significant reduction between decontamination efforts, and before skin becomes abraded
  • Practical decon considerations
    • In mass casualty events, decon facilities should be set up away from primary medical facility and hospital to avoid cross contamination
    • Throughput for decontamination in facilities shown above in Photos 1-3 is likely not to exceed 100 patients/hour
    • Although not recommended in large mass casualty events, capturing effluent water from shower in bladders may be considered in smaller events.

top of page