posted on Apr, 28 2009 @ 12:11 PM
The ability to contain, decontaminate, remove, and track fatalities.
The capability exists today for HAZMAT units to perform this function, with the exception of a biological operational environment, for which no
capability exists today. However, HAZMAT units will not turn to this mission until they are finished dealing with live victimism and coroners do not
have this capability for any operational environment except high explosive/incendiary.
There are procedures in place to address fatalities caused by a terrorist attack using chemical, nuclear and high explosive devices. The National
Medicine Response Plan created a new Disaster Mortuary Response Team (DMORT) consisting of fifty personnel in training to respond to a "mass fatality
incident." However, under the best circumstances the DMORT team can decontaminate up to fifty bodies in a twenty-four hour period. Biological and
radiological (dirty bomb) decontamination does not have sufficient documentation to determine how decontamination will be handled for external and
internal cleansing of the remains. These contaminants raise serious concerns and questions as to what the disposition of the remains will be once a
decontamination process is complete. While the goal of the DMORT team is to preserve the body, preferable for open casket viewing, there may be an
unwillingness on behalf of the local mortuaries to receive decontaminated remains without an agreed upon measurement that defines what "clean"
Current technology for "food irradiation" has been partially successful. This technology (e.g., Sure-Beam) was applied in decontamination efforts of
post office facilities after the October 2001 anthrax attacks. HAZMAT units have this capability, except in the case of biological attack. However,
HAZMAT units will not turn to this mission until they are finished dealing with live victims. Chemical/biological body bags heat-sealed, with gaseous
decontamination, is a concept under development. However, there are issues with transporting contaminated remains to a decontamination site.
In the interim, responders can adapt gaseous decontamination and food irradiation technologies to this capability. Mobilization and miniaturization of
irradiation and gaseous decontamination technology could also be of use.