Communication during mass casualty decontamination: Highlighting the gaps

Holly Carter, John Drury, G. James Rubin, Richard Williams, Richard Amlot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – Effective communication has been recognised as an important issue for the management of incidents involving decontamination; evidence shows that failure to communicate effectively may result in increased public anxiety and non-compliance. This paper aims to examine current provision for communicating with members of the public during decontamination, to facilitate the development of improved responder communication strategies. Design/methodology/approach – To examine the current provision for communicating with members of the public, the authors reviewed open source decontamination guidance documents for responders, as well as published reports of emergency preparedness exercises involving decontamination. Findings – The review of decontamination guidance documents showed that specific guidance for professional responders on how to communicate with the public during incidents that involve decontamination could be improved. Similarly, the review of published decontamination exercises shows that a stronger emphasis on communication with members of the public is needed, in addition to the use of exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of communication strategies. Originality/value – The present research summarises existing evidence relating to how communication strategies employed by responders can shape public responses to decontamination. Analysed alongside current decontamination guidance for emergency responders, this evidence highlights potential gaps in planning for communicating with members of the public during decontamination. It is hoped that this will promote an increased understanding of the importance of communication during these types of incidents, which will in turn facilitate the development of more comprehensive responder communication strategies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-48
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Services
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2013


    • CBRN
    • Communication
    • Decontamination
    • Exercise
    • Planning
    • Responder guidance


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