Why should hospitals learn about decontamination?

Decontamination has traditionally been the responsibility of local Fire Services. However, four factors may affect a fire department’s ability to respond to a healthcare facility to perform decontamination.

  1. First is the issue of self-presenting victims. In a small isolated incident a lone victim may not recognize the impact contamination has on a health care facility and simply walk-in undetected to the emergency department.
  2. Second, in a large mass contamination event, victims may not wait for responders to arrive and transport themselves to the nearest facility.
  3. Third, Fire Services may become overwhelmed at the scene of a large-scale disaster situation, leaving few, if any, resources available to respond to a healthcare facility.
  4. Fourth, one final scenario that cannot be ruled out is if the facility itself is targeted through terrorism or other intentional attack. In each of these scenarios, a facility may have to set up and operate decontamination procedures independently.

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