A decontamination unit built by environmental design and engineering student workers at the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s Automated Fabrication and Design Lab was a big help to small animals tainted by recent toxic floodwaters in Texas.
The lab’s students collaborated with the university’s Veterinary Emergency Team, which examines and treats animals injured and displaced in natural disasters, to create the 3’ tall, 2’ x 4.5’ decontamination unit.
Working under the supervision of lab director Christopher Paulk, the students used equipment at the RELLIS Campus lab to fabricate the unit’s aluminum frame and clear, abrasion-resistant polycarbonate sides with openings that facilitate thick examination gloves.
Students also built and installed nozzles and hoses used by emergency workers to administer soaps, detergents or degreasers, depending on the animal’s level and type of an animal’s exposure.
During the catastrophic Central Texas Memorial Day weekend flooding in 2015, which destroyed 350 homes and claimed 13 lives, emergency team members used the unit to examine and treat search-and-rescue dogs that waded through floodwaters, which often contain infectious organisms such as E. coli and salmonella, as well as agricultural or industrial chemicals.
The team again used the unit in 2016 flooding, when they treated small animals displaced in Brazoria County floods.