Mass decontamination
Mass decontamination is the decontamination
Decontamination is the process of cleansing the human body to remove contamination by hazardous materials including chemicals, radioactive substances, and infectious material...

 of large numbers of people, in the event of industrial, accidental, or intentional contamination by toxic, infective, caustic, polluted, or otherwise unhealthful or damaging substances.

Mass hysteria and security aspects

Scenes of mass contamination are often scenes of collective hysteria
Collective hysteria
Mass hysteria—other names include collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior—is the manifestation of the same or similar hysterical symptoms by more than one person. A common manifestation of mass hysteria occurs when a group of people believe they are suffering from a...

, with hundreds or thousands of victims in a state of panic
Panic is a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frantic agitation consistent with an animalistic fight-or-flight reaction...

. Therefore, mass decontamination may require police, security, or rescue supervision to help control panic and keep order. Under these circumstances, mass decon can take on some features of mass arrests, with victims forcibly rounded up, then treated inside impromptu detention areas. Successful municipal decontaminations are greatly aided by a close collaboration between police and fire departments. An organised, informed and aware populace can be better prepared for possible emergencies, and is less likely to panic. In some situations volunteers may be needed to augment or replace rescue/security personnel to help maintain calm and/or assist with decontamination procedures.

For example, the Australian "Workplace Relations Act 1996" calls for detention of victims of a hazardous materials (hazmat) incident:
  • The ACTFB has also gained additional powers under the Emergencies Act 2004 to detain people at a HazMat/CBR incident.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders...

 (FEMA) also suggests that:
  • victims... might be detained for... decontamination.

Even some of the clear-thinking subjects may resist efforts to decontaminate them. Those who know or think they have not been contaminated may resist being herded into close quarters with sick or toxin-ridden victims who still have the potential to harm those nearby. Those carrying weapons or some form of contraband may require force to part them from their contaminated clothes and effects. Others may simply fear contact with the authorities, as well as separation from family and loss of job resulting from quarantines, more than they fear the contaminant.

Military groups, church groups, Boy Scouts
Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society....

 groups, Girl Guides, businesses, etc. can prepare for possible contaminations by performing drills of decontamination procedures. This can have the effect of decreasing the likelihood of panic, and allowing for faster, more successful decontamination.

Mass decontamination equipment

Mass decontamination is performed by way of decontamination tents, trailers, or fixed facilities. Most hospitals and airports have at least one mass decontamination facility. Some newer airports have a mobile facility that can generate decontamination foam
Decontamination foam
Decontamination foam is a spray-on cleaning solution that, due to its physical properties, has a longer residence time on contaminated surfaces than regular liquids and thus provides efficient decontamination of biological and chemical contaminants Decontamination foam (known commonly as Decon...

 in large quantities.

LAX - Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, the second-most populated metropolitan area in the United States. It is most often referred to by its IATA airport code LAX, with the letters pronounced individually...

 has a decontamination system with four soap cannon
Crowd control
Crowd control is the controlling of a crowd, to prevent the outbreak of disorder and prevention of possible riot. Examples are at soccer matches, when a sale of goods has attracted an excess of customers, refugee control, or mass decontamination and mass quarantine situations . It calls for gentler...

s to spray down hysterical crowds. The facility features pop up tents so that once soaped, the victims can file on either side of the rig (one gender on each side) to rinse in specially designed showers where they can remove all clothing, dry off, and receive replacement clothing or other suitable modesty garb (i.e., makeshift clothing such as bedsheets, tablecloths, or garbage bags with head and arm cutouts).

External links

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