A quick PPE refresher

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

The post Let’s play Q&A was a quickie scenario where things were spiralling out of control.
Insufficient information to form a carefully thought out plan, you needed to be reactive the whole time.

Only there was that thing.
Just as you think you’ve made it, you suddenly need to take cover, get out of the open, and into a secure place as you are either under sustained attack, there is a CBRN scenario developing, or your vehicle is disabled.

Now Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear contamination is always a possibility in a disaster. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE MILITARY IN NATURE! Industrial accidents and natural causes can all chuck bad stuff into the air.
A while ago I wrote about the unfortunate  “Dust lady from 9/11 dying”. RIP.

I’ll repeat the post here:-
‘Dust lady’ of 9/11 Marcy Borders dies of stomach cancer at 42

dustladyThis picture was snapped in the lobby of World Trade Center.
She was covered from head to foot with debris and dust probably having inhaled and probably ingested all kinds of airborne particles.

Now I’ve no guarantee that PPE would have saved her but what am I talking about here, what she could have kept about herself JUST IN CASE?

ppe1Total weight? 3 oz at the most and it helps to protect the most vulnerable parts of the body from airborne particles and some chemicals.

  1. The Fold Flat Mask (level 3) protects the lungs and stops you ingesting debris.
  2. Goggles helps stop debris and chemicals landing on your sensitive wet eyeballs.
  3. Foam ear plugs keep the noise down and keeps debris out of your ear canals.
  4. Nitrile gloves (better than latex IMO) to stop you coming into contact with toxic material.

Total UK cost? £5-7 a person. Nuff said.

It’s no way as effective as a full US forces MOPP gear or heavy weight industrial safety gear. Still if you want more information about this gear? Try HERE.

level4moppBut what is suggested will help to keep the fast track routes into the body (inhalation, ingestion, and via the wet incredibly thin membrane of the eyes) protected against dust and a few more airborne contaminates.

Yet is that quick statement enough? Nope, nowhere near enough.
YOU MUST DON (put on) your PPE as soon as possible starting with your MASK!
Most contaminates are tiny. Smoke and dust? It’s tiny particles. Only sometimes it’s too fine for you to see. Yet if you can taste or smell something what you just did was dose yourself with whatever was there. Only what if it was tasteless?

Only what if you haven’t got your “little bag with everything in it”?
You improvise.
A dampened cloth across your face, something over your head to deflect dust.
Plastic bags on your hands to stop you touching contaminated surfaces.
This is all “boy scout 101” improvisation folks although some out in blog land will be thinking “how absurd”.

Only is it?

Then the question of shelter comes to mind.
The scenario gave you choices.
Your options are (a) a small industrial unit made up of machine shops, warehouses, and offices, (b) You can access a sewer system or underground communications tunnel, (c) There are domestic dwellings in abundance.

Rightly or wrongly I’ll always opt for a private dwelling. Why?
Because the first thing I’m going to do after securing myself in is strip off and WASH!
As one learned advisory put it:-

Strip and shower: The duck and cover for the 21st century.

What you haven’t inhaled or ingested could be soaking into your skin through your clothing or (in the case of fallout) be ‘burning’ you by sitting on your skin or even through your clothing.

Private dwellings usually have clothing scattered around.
That’s your goal, dump the dirty, wash, put on clean, and cover up.
As for the mask? Well I’d carry two. One for outside, one for in.

Now have I saved you by this advice?
I’ve no way of knowing EXCEPT I may have improved your chances a little.
Short of you walking round with a fully equipped MOPP set, a way of identifying all known contaminates, a box full of counter agents and drugs, and a full on course in dealing with the effects of anything you come across, and the might of the lean green fighting machine logistics to support you?

Well you work it out.

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3 Responses to A quick PPE refresher

  1. Rifleman III says:

    Per inquiry made to the Chemical Warfare Section of Fort McClellan, US Army, I was told that skin pores absorb more than lungs absorb. A membrane suit with all openings duct taped, would be necessary. I had made acquaintance of two police officers, both of whom were at World Trade Center, one as the towers went down, the other immediately after, both died of cancer. Of personal concern, my son and one of my son-in-laws, were at the scene helping evacuate people. My son continues regular comprehensive cancer screening (so far, so good).

    • Seeing as though the skin is the biggest organ of the body I’m inclined to agree.

      Only there is one thing you can do with the body which you can’t with lungs. You can wash stuff off skin.

      As that CBRN expert said (and I do like a catchy phrase) Strip and shower: The duck and cover for the 21st century.

      Reference reading for you:-

      “Because nerve agents are soluble in fat and water, they are absorbed readily through the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin. Vapor agents penetrate the eyes first, producing localized effects, then pass into the respiratory tract, with more generalized effects when the exposure is greater. Liquid agents penetrate the skin at the point of contact, producing localized effects followed by deeper penetration and generalized effects if the dose is large enough.

      Accordingly, the lethality of these agents varies with the route of exposure. For inhalational exposures to GB, the lethal concentration time product in 50% of the exposed population is 75-100 mg·min/m3. For dermal exposures, the lethal dose in 50% of the exposed population is 1700 mg.”

      As for airborne asbestos? Masks rule!

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