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Mass Fatality Incidents: A Guide for Human Forensic Identification

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2005
83 pages
This guide was developed to assist all jurisdictions nationwide in creating new mass fatality plans or in reviewing existing mass fatality plans, specifically in the area of forensic-victim identification.
Most government agencies concerned with public safety have disaster plans, either their own or linked to other agencies’ plans. In the event of mass fatalities, the local medical examiner or coroner should already have in a place a plan to identify the victims properly. The purpose of this guide, developed by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, is to help the medical examiner or coroner prepare that portion of a disaster plan concerned with victim identification. The procedures presented can help medical examiners and coroners fulfill their legal duties, even when the number of victims exceeds their agency’s daily operating capacity. The guide is divided into six main sections: (1) initial response considerations; (2) arriving at the scene; (3) processing the scene; (4) identification of human remains in the areas of medical examiner/coroner, administration/morgue operations, forensic anthropology, DNA analysis, fingerprints, odontology, radiology, and antemortem data collection; (5) disposition of human remains, personal effects, and records; and (6) other related issues, such as reimbursement, implementing a transition plan, mutual assistance agreements, release and control of information, stress management, and language, cultural, and religious considerations. Appendixes A-G

Date Published: June 1, 2005