representative. Wounds or body parts that resist decontamination may have to be covered, and the patient referred to a higher level medical treatment facility.
Protect any uncontaminated cut, scratch, or wound with an impermeable tape or other suitable material while decontaminating the rest of the body. If a wound is already contaminated, the simplest and least drastic decontamination method available should be tried first, always by trained medical personnel. First, the wound should be carefully bathed or flushed with sterile water, and a reasonable amount of bleeding should be encouraged.
Following decontamination, standard triage procedures, described in chapter 4 of the HM 3 & 2 Rate Training Manual, are used.
Additional information pertaining to the initial management of irradiated or radioactively contaminated individuals may be obtained from the current BUMEDINST 6470.10.
Radiological material may be removed but not destroyed. Water then becomes a special problem. Water coming from an underground source usually is free from radioactive materials and is therefore usable, but water coming from a reservoir that has to depend upon a surface watershed for its source may not be usable. Fortunately, regular water-treatment processes that include coagulation, sedimentation, and filtration will remove most fallout material, and if the reservoir water can be properly treated, it will be usable again. But for safetys sake, never drink untested water. Distillation frees water of radioactive material providing emergency drinking water.
Supplies and food can be protected from residual radiation by storage in dustproof containers. Although the outside of the containers may become contaminated, most of this radioactive material may be removed by washing. The container can then be opened and the contents removed and used without fear of causing significant contamination.
The outer wrappings on medical supplies and the peelings on fruit and vegetables also afford protection to their contents. After carefully removing the outer coverings and checking the contents, it maybe found that these materials will be safe to use.
Contaminated clothing should be handled with care. It should never be casually placed on furniture, hung on walls, or dropped on floors. Clothing should be stored in garbage cans or disposable containers. If these are not available, it should be placed on pieces of paper large enough to be rolled and secured. Grossly contaminated clothing should be properly disposed of by an authorized method, such as burial at sea or in deep pits or trenches, whichever is appropriate.
If clothing is in short supply, lightly contaminated clothing may be salvaged by special laundering. Three washings in hot water with detergent should be sufficient. To be sure that this procedure has freed the clothing of radioactive material, each article should be monitored before it is released for reuse. Rubber and plastic materials are readily decontaminated in a warm detergent wash.
1. NAVMED P-5059, Nato Handbook on the Medical Aspects of NBC Defensive Operations
2. NAVMED P-5041, Treatment of Chemical Agent Casualties