Saturday, August 10, 2013

DHS Sends Mass Casualty Decon Notice to OMB

The Office of Management and Budget announced Friday that the DHS Office of the Secretary submitted a new National Planning Guidance document to the OMB for pre-publication approval. The document concerns Patient Decontamination in a Mass Chemical Exposure Incident.

This document was not included in the Spring Unified Agenda so there is little official information available about the document. I did find an 2012 ‘Pre-Decisional Draft, Not for Distribution’ on that might provide some interesting insight into what the document submitted to OMB might look like. It is a 107 page, pretty detailed and information dense document.

There are a couple of interesting items in the opening of 2012 document (all quotes from page 3). The most important to my mind is a comment regarding federal involvement (actually lack of federal involvement) in decontamination events:

“Due to the fast-acting nature of chemicals and the need for patients to be decontaminated as soon as possible, the federal government would not be able to participate directly in the response during the appropriate time window. Therefore, this guidance is directed primarily at local officials.”

The other item is a description of the scope of coverage for the guidance document:

“This guidance sets forth patient decontamination principles from a strategic perspective, rather than a tactical one. It is meant to guide, but not specify operational practices. The guidance is evidence-based to the extent possible and the evidence description, or lack thereof, is documented and briefly discussed.”

Finally there is a description of the types of incidents that this guidance document for which this guidance would be applicable:

“The subject matter considered here is limited to external contamination of living people in a mass casualty incident resulting from an accidental or intentional chemical release. Contamination of patients with chemicals, including toxic industrial chemicals, toxic industrial materials and chemical warfare agents, is the present focus. However, though not specifically addressed here, many of the concepts presented here will likely apply to radiological and biological agents.”

This looks like this will be a very interesting document to review when (if) it gets published in the coming months.

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