Through Margot Nicodemus
The staging is so realistic that you could almost see it as a blockbuster for a streaming platform. However, nothing entertaining, basically: it is a nuclear simulation exercise organized by the Emergency Care Education Center (Cesu) at Rouen University Hospital (Seine-Maritime), Thursday September 23, 2021. It occurs every six months in the hospital, to train the patients as well as possible. 90 decontaminators who have been trained in the care of victims exposed to radioactive or chemical risks.
Behind the somewhat frightening paraphernalia lurk caregivers of all professions, who have volunteered to acquire these special skills.
Clothes cut out, jewelry removed
Supervised by Christophe Rihal, nurse at Samu and trainer Cesu, therefore, the demonstration included five decontaminators, recognizable by their white suits, therefore, and a dozen victims, played by health professionals.
The idea is to be able to take charge of a massive influx of infected people, whether it involves nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical or explosive risks. [dits risques NRBCe, ndlr]. The first one chose to do is to avoid a transfer of contamination.
It is the heavy task that falls to the men and women in white, completely protected thanks to a light suit of decontamination, tight to the liquids – even the acids – to the gases, and to a face mask, with “a cartridge to filter all the toxic gases ”, continues Christophe Rihal.
The first step, in contact with the victims, is to “imprison” the contamination. “We protect the airways with a mask [chirurgical], we put a cap on the hair, and we spray the clothes with water, which will fix the radioactive dust. The clothes are then delicately cut, then rolled outwards, to trap the contamination inside. Personal effects are placed in bags and secured. “We remove even jewelry, because an earring can be contaminated”, details the specialist.
Seven minutes to decontaminate
Getting naked is the next essential step, before going to the shower, in large tents set up for the occasion. The water must not be too hot, to avoid “the emission of vapors, which would re-suspend the dust”. Three minutes – of the seven that the complete decontamination process lasts – and a double shampoo later, the people in care are dried and dressed in disposable clothes. “They can then enter the traditional care sector. »What about the nature of the symptoms afterwards? “They can be various: respiratory, cardiac, cutaneous, gastric…”
Once their missions are completed, the decontaminators also go under the shower before withdrawing, with the same extreme vigilance, their combinations by another decontaminator.
As to whether such a disaster scenario could become a reality, in Rouen, located about an hour from the road from the Paluel and Penly power plants, Christophe Rihal answers in the affirmative. “You can imagine that people who were under the radioactive cloud were taken to the road, before the traffic was blocked, and arrived here. Whether they are symptomatic or not, it is possible that they are contaminated. »During the exercise, all scenarios are considered: mothers accompanied by their infants, people with disabilities, or who have been injured in general panic.
“The Rouen University Hospital must be able to receive all these people. This is why we call on the caregivers who have followed the training to share their expertise with their colleagues, at least once a year, ”concludes the trainer.
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