Respiratory Protection

Respiratory protection is generally divided into two types: supplied air (whether wall and air line supplied or SCBA self contained breathing apparatus) and air purification such as powered air purification respirators (PAPR), HEPA filters, or masks with specific filtration canisters. SCBA is used by firefighters and scuba divers, while line supplied air is more commonly seen with rescue operations at cave rescues, building collapse, biological experimental laboratories. The provider is tethered by a long oxygen hose to a central oxygen supply and obviously mobility is limited by the hose length and movement.

When is respiratory protection required?

  • Removing persons from area of contamination
  • Caring for exposed victims prior to decontamination
  • During decontamination procedures

Note: Depending on the persistence of the agent medical personnel may still need PPE after patient decontamination due to offgassing. VX can be released via vapor contaminated clothing for 30 minutes after exposure. (NIOSH emergency response card VX).

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