CBRN Response, Containment and Decontamination Guide

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CBRN Containment and Decontamination Guide

Now that we have reviewed the fundamental basics of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear based attacks, we can now examine the basic SOP (standard operating procedures) for CBRN Containment. The purpose of this CBRN Containment and Decontamination Guide is to provide general guidelines civilians and operators can rely upon to enhance their level of preparedness, while protecting those who are unable to protect themselves from CBRN attacks.

CBRN bio-terrorist attacks represent an Achilles heel in the Prepper and Survival Community, largely due to a lack in CM (consequence management) planning, training, procedures and adequate PPC (personal protective equipment). In response, we will outline the procedural guidelines for civilians and operators who realize the need for CBRN preparedness and response. This CBRN guide outlines response, containment and decontamination standards. Before committing these steps you should have your team organized, assigning command and subordinate roles to better address the incident.

This guide should be used to assist preppers and survivalists in planning, preparing for, conducting, and assessing CBRN bio-terrorist attacks in which their groups are likely to encounter chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. In short…this CBRN Guide is for those who decide to answer the call and help their fellow Americans.

CBRN Threat Assessment

Upon the initial onset of a likely CBRN attack that requires containment due to the threat it poses to OPSEC (operational security) to protect FOBs (forward operating bases), civilian bunkers, and/or your home, the following steps should be taken;

  1. Before approaching the scene, PPC/MOPP (personal protective equipment) should be donned, which includes; protective CBRN suit, prophylactic layered hand protection, sealed respirator, providing a sealed barrier preventing CBRN penetration. We recommend the Demron Full Body Suit – this suit was engineered to provide protection during the evacuation of a dirty bomb. The suit is an excellent shield of high-energy beta particles, such as those emitted from Strontium-90, and provides at least 50% shielding of gamma rays up to 130 Kev.
  2. Approach the scene with a heightened sense of caution upwind from the scene. Stay alert for another potential attack, all scenes should be approached with sufficient defensive measures.
  3. Carry out scene assessment by establishing key factors such as; location of incident, time of incident, weather conditions, casualty/contaminated personnel report, visual assessment, identify CBRN as gas or liquid, method of deployment, witness reporting.
  4. Determine type of CBRN incident by recognizing the signs of a the incident determining;
    1. Chemical Attack – Indicated by an onset within minutes to hours where the victims demonstrate symptoms such as running nose, tearing, blisters, seizure and other patterns outlined in our Introduction into CBRNE. Observe the signatures of a chemical attack that often include; visual identification of liquid/vapor substances, petroleum based droplets, low-lying clouds/fog, dead insects and animals, unexplained odors reported by on-scene personnel.
    2. Biological Attack – Indicated by an onset within hours to days where the victims demonstrate symptoms such as fever, chills, coughing, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and other patterns outlined in our Introduction into CBRNE. Observe the signatures of a biological attack that often include; spray and dispersal devices, sick or dying animals and humans.
    3. Radiological and Nuclear Attacks – Indicated by an onset of nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, malaise, blistering, hair loss and other patterns outlined in our Introduction into CBRNE. Observe the signatures of radiological attacks that often include; absence of visual and olfactory indicators, heat emission, radiating items. Observe the signatures of nuclear attacks that include blast, intense light, heat, pressure wave and a mushroom cloud.
    4. During war or domestic attacks, assessments can be made at a distance before approaching the scene using scopes equipped with IR (infrared) capability. In addition, responders can utilize CDS (Civil Defense Simultest Sets) that will detect alcohol, methanol, aliphatic hydrocarbons, n-hexane, armoatics, touene, chlorinated hydrocarbons, perchloroethylene, ketones, acetone, and hydrochloric acid in as little as 5 minutes.
    5. Establish an ICC (incident command center) upwind from the event in the Cold Zone marked by yellow barrier tape; the ICC should adequately be able to; supply protective consumable CBRN equipment, employ protective measures, integrate communication with allied units, establish CBRN defense medical protection ops, protect equipment and supplies, COLPRO (collective protection) for ICC and medical ops, effectively restricting movement in and out of the hot zone into the cold zone.
      1. Cold Zones should be situated at a minimum of 300 feet from the diameter of the Warm Zone. The Warm Zone is typically 100-200 feet from the diameter of the Hot Zone. Hot Zones are immediately affected areas of various sizes such as; intersections, home, buildings, city blocks, entire cities and etc.

CBRN Decontamination Procedures

To properly contain a CBRN incident the first consideration should be your protection above all else. Decontamination efforts mitigate the effects of CBRN hazards to enhance unit effectiveness while supporting post-attack restoration of operational capabilities. Typically, decontamination should be performed as soon as possible to maximize effectiveness by using standard decontamination protocols;

  • Using water and soap solutions to clean exposed areas (hands/face) is an effective form of decontamination of chemical agents, biological agents and some radiological agents
  • Using a mixture of 9 H2O:1 NaClO (9 parts water, 1 part bleach) is effective at preventing skin absorption
  • Strip down contaminated personnel as soon as possible (no watches, necklaces, clothing and etc.) and clean the entire body with water and 9 H2O:1 NaClO solution in addition to talcum powder or flour as a substitute, and then wash all skin surfaces again.
  • Decontamination procedures should be held as close to the contaminated area, without being physically inside the hot zone.
  • Decontamination is often labor-intensive so accommodations should be made when determining decontamination priorities. There are four levels of decontamination: immediate, operational, thorough, and clearance. Decontamination levels depend on mission, degree of contamination, situation and the time available to decontaminate while making special considerations for contaminated personnel, equipment, and fixed sites.

CBRN Containment Procedures

If the incident contains the release and dispersal of radiological, chemical, or biological contaminants in the air outside; those within the Hot and Warm zones who are not a part of the CBRN unit you have established (i.e. civilians) should be instructed to seal their homes and occupied structures immediately, until safe evacuation operations begin. Sealing structure airways is a common fundamental for the following steps;

  1. If the occupants were smart, and own a Bug Out Bag BOB – Instruct them to immediately grab their BOBs for each member of the family that has not been visibly contaminated (containment procedures are likely to fail in the presence of sibling contamination due to the nature of human instinct)
  2. In the event of an outdoor chemical release, instruct occupants to seek interior rooms, and/or the highest floor in the structure. Higher ground is required due to the weight of chemical agents.
  3. In the event of an outdoor radiological release, instruct occupants to seek interior rooms and/or the lowest floor in the structure.
  4. In the absence of a BOB/s; occupants should be instructed to quickly grab duct tape, plastic sheeting, first aid supplies, non-perishable food (3 days or more per person), sleeping bags or bedding, battery powered/hand-crank emergency radio, flashlights, candles, batteries, and a CPU/TV.
  5. The rooms occupants retreat to should have quick access to a restroom and basic communication equipment, including whatever COMM stored inside the occupants’ BOBs.
  6. The rooms should be locked and all windows should be locked. Air vents should be closed.
  7. Close all shades, curtains, blinds if explosive damage is expected.
  8. HVAC and fan systems should be disabled. The presence of CB filtration systems in private homes and small businesses is highly unlikely. State, federal and corporate properties are likely to be equipped with CB/RN protection.
  9. Cover all windows, doors, and air vents with industrial grade plastic sheeting (or trash bags can be used as a ditch effort) sealed with duct tape.
  10. Control each zone at all costs when a high risk of contamination to personnel outside of the hot and/or warm zone is present.

CBRN Militia Trauma Unit Preparedness

CBRN attacks are more possible than the American public realizes due to a heightened state of denial. These attacks will be random and for any mundane reason. Pay close attention CBRN indicators such as foul/awkward odors, presence of powders/liquids, and the effects on the populace. Personal protective measures for your CBRN MTU (CBRN militia trauma unit) should focus on protecting your airway first with approved masks. CBRN 54500 Series Gas Mask with Dual Side Mounted 40mm DIN Thread Connector. Keep your distance from hot zones when not performing CBRN containment, and decontamination. Decontamination typically takes precedent and should be performed as soon as possible.

Continue to CBRN Treatment Guide for Militia Response Units


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About 2LT Website Administrator

Retired health resources analyst and county level emergency manager with specialized training in NIMS/BICS/IICS/Executive ICS/Multi-agency Coordination. Still relatively young I left the service of the federal government due to increasing concerns.

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