Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

November 26, 2013

Officials learn how to handle mass fatalities


Gary Solar, an FCEMA member, EMT and Drewersburg firefighter, asked, “How did you come up with 20” for Level 3? The coordinator answered, “Twenty is the fewest number DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team) will respond to.”

Deputy coroner Brian Baxter said, “I think three is a low number” of deaths for Level 1. Later in the meeting, he proposed higher numbers and other attendees seemed to agree: Level 1, 6-12; Level 2, 12-20; Level 3, 21+.

The plan noted, “In all incidents regardless of size, the coroner will assess resource needs via on-scene representatives.” More death investigation staff may be requested through FCEMA. Staff who would assist with the investigation, search and recovery and transportation of remains could include health department personnel, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers or employees of other county agencies.

Naumann pointed out specialized agencies will help depending on the type of catastrophe: terrorism, FBI; explosion, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; water accident, Coast Guard; train and plane crashes, National Transportation Safety Board.

FCEMA will serve as the first point of contact for requests for assistance from state and federal governments. Two resources overseen by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana Mortuary Emergency Response Team and Disaster Portable Mortuary Unit, are located at Camp Atterbury and could arrive in 24 hours at the earliest, according to the coordinator. The Region 5 DMORT can be here no later than 48 hours after the incident.

Baxter said the county coroner’s office has mutual aid agreements with its counterparts in surrounding counties. Another resource for equipment could be the Indiana Coroners Association.

According to Solar, “If the state doesn’t have the resource, the governor has to request it from the president.”

Naumann admitted, “We have a lack of some of the response resources” recommended by the FBI, such as equipment to set up a grid system at a scene. He wants to develop a list of items the coroner’s office needs and apply for a grant.

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