The role of pre-incident information and responder communication in effective management of casualties, including members of vulnerable groups, during a decontamination field exercise

Amelia Dennis*, Dale Weston, Richard Amlôt, Andreas Arnold, Danielle Carbon, Holly Carter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

During a CBRNe incident, it is essential that those affected are decontaminated as quickly as possible. Factors which may enhance the speed with which decontamination can be carried out include the provision of pre-incident information to members of the public, an effective responder communication strategy, and consideration of the needs of all those affected. In the current study, we ran a field exercise involving mass decontamination in response to a simulated chemical incident. The study aimed to understand the role of responder communication, the needs of vulnerable individuals, levels of compliance, and the impact of pre-incident information, during decontamination. Eighteen participants took part in the exercise with nine participants having vulnerabilities. Participants completed pre-exercise and post-exercise questionnaires and took part in a post-exercise focus group. Participants' and responders’ behaviour was also observed during the exercise. Results showed that participants reported issues associated with both practical aspects of responder communication (e.g., background noise) and overall responder communication strategy and stated that poor communication from responders would have led to less compliance in a real incident. Vulnerable individuals reported that their needs were not always met, with issues including poor physical and communication-related support, and a lack of consideration for functional aids. However, participants reported positive perceptions of the actions in the pre-incident information. Overall, this research suggests that effective management of a chemical incident must include an effective communication strategy (both before and during an incident) and consideration of the needs of vulnerable individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103806
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Volume94
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

Keywords

  • CBRNe
  • Communication
  • Decontamination
  • Exercise
  • Incident
  • Vulnerability

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