Hazmat Decontamination Exercise to Help People with Disabilities: Call for Participants

The BCCPD is participating on the Decontamination Exercise Committee for the SIMTEC project, which is a four year research project administrated by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) that aims to develop training and resources to assist first responders in attending to the diverse needs of their community during times of crisis.

Every year in British Columbia, Police, Fire and Rescue and Ambulance personnel treat thousands of patients who need to undergo decontamination processes. This can be the result of being pepper-sprayed in a mall hold-up; being in the vicinity where someone has spilled some toxic chemicals; finding oneself downwind from a source of insecticides or pesticides; or even finding oneself in a toxic smoke cloud from a burning building or living next to a meth lab.

Little work has been done to reduce the trauma of the event for children, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, those in wheelchairs or accompanied by a guide or therapy dog. Every week people are put through a decontamination process which could be much less stressful than the way the process is carried out now.

In mid-March 2013, in partnership with the City of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service, the RCMP, BC Ambulance Services and Lions Gate Hospital, the JIBC will be conducting a decontamination drill to allow first responders to practice new protocols that have been developed. The SIMTEC project is looking for individuals with disabilities who are willing to participate in the upcoming drill with the hope that they will be able to participate and share your experiences to inform us on how your needs can be met in times of crisis.

Individuals who are interested can participate in two ways:

  1. You can participate in the decontamination drill. You would act as a civilian who has been contaminated and first responders would assist and direct you through the decontamination process. Please note that this drill will take place outdoors and may involve some physical discomfort if the weather is very cold (although we will have hot beverages and shelter close by).
  2. You can participate in an interview with one of the researchers. These interviews would explore how you believe you would react in a decontamination situation and how you believe your psychosocial needs could be met.

Participants will be given a $50 honorarium for helping the project validate its strategies to lessen the stress of decontamination for others.

For more information about participating please contact Karen Martin at the BCCPD, karen@bccpd.bc.ca or 604-875-0188.