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Lessons Learned From 9/11: DNA Identification in Mass Fatality Incidents

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2006
142 pages
Incorporating recommendations made by the Kinship and Data Analysis Panel (KADAP) on DNA protocols, laboratory techniques, and statistical approaches, this report discusses the integration of DNA identification into a mass fatality disaster plan.
After a mass fatality event, it is the job of the medical examiner to identify the victims so that death certificates can be issued. When DNA analysis is part of the identification process, the laboratory must ensure that: victim, reference, and kinship samples are accessioned into the laboratory system and documented by proper chain of custody; DNA is extracted and genotyped and that analysis of the genotype data is performed; samples are re-accessioned and accounted for, if outsourced; and a final administrative review comparing the DNA results to non-DNA metadata is conducted. This report, prepared by the Kinship and Data Analysis Panel (KADAP), a group of experts assembled by the National Institute of Justice to offer advice in the identification of those who died in the World Trade Center attack in 2001, addresses all these phases of a mass fatality DNA identification effort. It is organized by specific areas of management (before the incident, major decisions, managing expectations, project management, media relations, family coordination and liaison, information technology, sample tracking and management, sample analysis, statistical and other issues, procurement and vendor management, and quality control). This report acts as a guide or self-assessment which may help a laboratory consider whether it is ready to handle the identification of victims in a mass fatality incident. The report discusses the incorporation of DNA identification into a mass fatality disaster plan, including how to establish laboratory policies and procedures, assess the magnitude of an identification effort and acquire resources to respond, identify reference and kinship samples, create a comprehensive laboratory management plan, and establish lines of communication between agencies, victims’ families, and the media. Exhibits and appendixes A-I

Date Published: September 1, 2006