Archive for May 21, 2014

I want to thank Fred Harkins and Texas Handgun Academy for allowing me to attend their O/C qualification course a second time in order to test Sudecon Detox Wipes.  This product is sold by Fox Labs and advertised as a means to reduce decontamination time from O/C or other spray.  The specific statement from the Fox Labs site is,

“Working on closed eyes, the patented formula in Sudecon® works faster and more consistently to clean up individuals exposed to OC, CS and CN than any other decontamination product ever formulated!”

A quick Google search indicated relatively little in the way of decontamination products specifically designed for O/C, so that’s kind of like comparing yourself against non-existent competition.  Even so, I wanted to understand from actual experience how well (or not so well) this product works.  The THA O/C course is the most realistic, controlled environment I could think of for such a test.

I received my O/C certification in Feb. or this year.  After being sprayed, you must pause for a photo to be taken.  You are supposed to perform a quick wipe of the forehead and top of eye area with the support hand to get as much of the contaminant as possible away from the eyes.  The strong hand is used to draw a plastic handgun from a paddle holster, placed on the strong side. You are required to open your eyes sufficiently to fire at a designated target and run from the point of spray to two cover positions.  You must fire at the target at each of the stations.  After firing from the second station, you must holster the firearm and move to the detox area, at which point you remove the paddle holster and hand it to an attendant.  Then, you may proceed to detox.

This process simulates dealing with a security threat to a physical or human asset under your protection by an attacker using spray.  It takes at least 20 seconds to go through the process and I can guarantee that in less than 15, your eyes will feel almost welded shut.

My concerns about an actual situation are twofold.  First, what happens if you are offensively sprayed and there is no detox facility – not even water – immediately available?  Second, what happens if you deal with the original threat with a firearm and a secondary threat emerges, i.e. the original attacker has an accomplice?  Is there any way to treat yourself in a manner that would allow you to get back into the fight, even in a minimal context?  Again, I can guarantee that after the original threat is dealt with, you are practically defenseless until detox is complete, unless you happen to have mastered use of the Force.

This line of thinking lead me to consider Sudecon wipes as a simple and portable means for both detox and, possibly, getting back into the fight after the contaminant was working full-force on my skin and eyes.  I do not, however, like to function on assumptions, so I felt compelled to test the product in an actual environment.

I volunteered to attend the THA O/C training a second time earlier this month.  Yes, that is a bit crazy, but I’d rather find out exactly how a product performs in a simulated environment with full detox facilities available instead of a real situation where underperformance could compromise my life or the well-being of a family member or principal.

Sudecon wipes are individually wrapped.

sudecon

The Fox Labs marketing hype reads as follows, “Working on closed eyes, the patented formula in Sudecon® works faster and more consistently to clean up individuals exposed to OC, CS and CN than any other decontamination product ever formulated! It strips the chemical agents from the skin instantly, and takes away the burn, allowing the eyes to open, in just 7 to 15 minutes or less!”

The instructions recommend using two wipes, but I wanted to evaluate the effectiveness of a single wipe in a worst-case scenario.  I was fortunate that another person, Sohrab Tavakah, volunteered to test a single wipe so that I could obtain another unbiased perspective in the same environment.  Speaking of volunteer, he agreed to be the one sprayed with foam.  Wow!  That guy is a trooper.  I believe he works for Mary Kay, so I hope MK realizes what a valuable person they have on board.

Since I had already gone through the formal program in Feb., I did not want to interfere with the progression of others, so I was sprayed and then stepped to the side to make room for the next person.  I did not go through the course of fire.  I also made no attempt to remove any of the contaminant from my face and I got sprayed right across the eyes.  This was not done intentionally as O/C canisters are not precision aiming instruments.  I did want to simulate a worst-case scenario, so I’m reminded of being careful what you wish for as you might receive just that 🙂  I opened and closed my eyes a few times and waited for a twenty-count to simulate the time period to deal with an attacker.

Wow, this does not get any easier with repetition!  My eyes felt like they had been hit with a blowtorch.

The packets are hard to open, especially since in a practical context, you are reaching into a pocket and removing the packet with closed eyes.  I removed a wipe and gently wiped the forehead and eye area.  I took a top corner and rubbed it gently across the tear duct area and lower eye area.

There was little in the way of immediate relief.  Since I could barely see through a tiny slit at the bottom of my eyes, another person escorted me over to the detox area.  Without thinking, I inadvertently placed the used wipe in my right pocket.  This would normally be a really bad mistake as it would have meant tossing a good pair of 5.11 pants and it will be important later in the review.

By the time I reached the detox area, I was pretty much as ineffective as the same point in my previous pass through this drill.  I was under the impression that I had dropped the wipe on the ground, so I proceeded through the normal detox process.  At best, the use of the single wipe allowed me to get my eyes back open a minute or so earlier than before, but I was still practically defenseless after that initial 15-20 second interval.

Sohrab reported the same result after dealing with the foam.  The foam is more brutal than spray as it’s harder to get excess amounts off your face and eyes.  Now, I let the spray soak into my eyes without any attempt at wiping, so I would say that our experiences in terms of intensity of contamination were similar.

Once I went back inside to sit in front of the fan, it became evident that with so many contaminated people in a small area, some of it moved into my nose.  My nostrils were burning and I had to blow my nose several times.  I reached into my right pocket to remove a kleenex and after the third blowing, I realized that I was actually blowing my nose with the previously used wipe.  After wiping my face and eyes with it and then thrusting the wipe into my pocket, I would have expected my hand to start burning and my nose to have worsened.  In fact, the opposite was true.  My hands did not burn at all and after the third blow and wipe of my nostrils, the burning in my nose subsided.

I was also hit across the top of the ears.  This area was washed off, but never touched with the wipe.  Only my forehead and eye area was wiped with Sudecon.  After the full detox and mandatory observation period completed, I walked out to my car on a bright and pretty warm day.  As soon as I stepped outside the door, my ears began to burn.  My face and eyes did not.

As I mentioned before, I tried to simulate a realistic and worst-case scenario, so I shaved that morning AND I wore the normal sunscreen I use any day I plan on being outside.  Sunscreen is one of the worst things you can wear when being sprayed as it collects the contaminant and stores it for you to experience all over again at a later time.

After returning home, I carefully washed my hands and arms in cold water.  Then, I washed my face using a very gentle cleanser.  As soon as I patted the water off, my entire face and inside of the eyes began to burn.  I went into the living room and tore open another wipe.  This time, I squeezed the liquid into the corner of my eyes and worked it in like eyedrops.  I then patted the rest of my face with the wipe.  The burning in my eyes faded within a few seconds and in about a minute, the entire burning across my face was gone.

I checked the inside of my right pocket, where I mistakenly placed the original wipe after rubbing the spray off my face.  There was no indication of secondary contamination and I still wear those pants to this day.

The next morning, I attended the Ft. Worth gun show.  As soon as the sun hit my left ear, the top of that ear started burning.  I experienced no burning sensations across my face or eyes throughout the day.

The totality of these experiences suggests that a minimum of two to three wipes are required for this product to have any notable effectiveness in a realistic scenario.  I would also recommend cutting tiny notches in each of the four corners of each packet you carry in order to make the packets easier to open.

In terms of setting your expectations, do not expect a single wipe to be effective unless you use it to wipe your face immediately after being sprayed.  However, you may be seriously injured or dead if you take the time to wipe your face in that manner as the attacker will likely use that interval as an opportunity to finish you off.

You must get the fluid into your eyes in order to have any effect in reducing the burning sensation in your eyes.  You can not rely on wiping across or around the eyes and expect the contaminant to be ‘drawn out’ as the marketing hype seems to suggest.

Sudecon is not a magic wand or a product that will get you back into a fight after dealing with an initial attacker.  At best, you might get your eyes open just slightly enough to call Texas Law Shield/Security Shield and 911.  You will still be pretty much ineffective against a second wave of attack.

Currently, I carry three wipes as I believe this is the minimum number to have any hope of effectiveness with the product.  I believe a single wipe has been thoroughly discounted as ineffective in a practical context.  And, it will help a lot to get as much of the product off your face as possible before opening your eyes for the first time.

If you carry spray on duty and are forced to use it, then having a collection of these wipes nearby will help somewhat with the attacker’s decontamination and will likely affect you positively in any subsequent legal proceedings.

I hope you found this review as helpful as I found it painful and thanks for stopping by Texas Gun Show Review.  If you would like future posts delivered to you directly, then click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom, right-hand corner of the blog or direct your friendly, neighborhood feed reader to this link.

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