Selecting the right CBRN ensemble for the threat

HAZMAT teams aren’t the only ones to handle chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear (CBRN) incidents anymore. To protect yourself, you need to get informed — knowing which CBRN ensemble best meets the stresses of a CBRN  incident.

Hot zone. This is the worst-case level:

T94 Multi Threat Ensemble
MT94 - Multi Threat Ensemble
  • An immediate threat involving a substance of unidentified and unknown concentration
  • Exposure to gas or vapor close to the point of release
  • Victims are unconscious or dead
  • Above Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) levels

In these instances, your stay in the hazard zone with be short and you will have to breathe via the SCBA. The CRBN ensemble should include:

  • A suit encapsulating you and the breathing apparatus
  • Attached gloves, boots or booties with outer boots
  • CBRN-compliant SCBA
  • Transparent visors
  • Pressure-sealing zippers
  • Exhaust valves for exhalation air
  • Gas-tight materials with .02% inward leakage

Warm zone. This level is characterized as follows:

MIGZ3 Mass Incident Garment
MIGZ3 - Mass Incident Garment
  • An identified threat/agent
  • Release has usually subsided
  • Possible contact with residual gas or vapor and contaminated surfaces
  • Victims are alive and can be rescued, but are non-ambulatory
  • Below Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) levels

In these situations, exposure is still limited but is of longer duration than in hot zones. The CBRN ensemble includes:

  • Encapsulating suit which may or may not be gas-tight
  • Gloves and footwear
  • SCBA that is either inside or outside of the ensemble
  • Less than 2% inward leakage
  • Materials are resistant to chemical agents and toxic industrial chemicals at low concentrations and resistant to viral penetration

Cold zone. This is the most removed, least threatening level:

ERS - Extended Response Suit
ERS - Extended Response Suit
  • Release has finished a long time ago
  • Rescuer is distant from point of release, usually on the periphery where decontamination, clean up, patient care, crowd, traffic and perimeter control occur
  • Very little potential for gas or vapor exposure
  • Victims are self-evacuating

In these instances, ensembles are worn for longer periods. The CBRN ensemble includes:

  • One- or multi-piece full body suit
  • Gloves and footwear
  • Use of SCBA or APR
  • Materials minimize inward leakage of liquids only
  • Materials do not protect from gases, vapors or aerosols, but do resist permeation from selected chemical agents and toxic chemicals at very low concentrations
  • Viral resistant materials

2 thoughts on “Selecting the right CBRN ensemble for the threat”

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