History of DMORT

 

In the early 1980s, a committee was formed within the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) to address disaster situations and specifically, mass fatality incidents. This group found that no standardization then existed and worked toward creating a national protocol for the formation of a proper response. Initially, they were concentrating on just the role of funeral directors, but it was soon discovered that funeral directors and no one profession could handle all of the aspects of such an event. A multi-faceted nonprofit organization open to all forensic practitioners was formed by the committee to support the idea of a national level response protocol for all related professions. This group formed and purchased the first portable morgue unit in the country and their equipment has supported DMORT missions in Illinois, Indiana, Guam, Michigan and Del Rio.

Soon after this non profit group of volunteers had formed, government interest in this topic came to the forefront. Families who had lost loved ones in airline incidents felt that the treatment that they had received was inadequate and demanded a response from congress. As a result, Congress passed The Family Assistance Act in October of 1996 and required all American based airlines (and later all those operating in the US) to have a plan to assist families in the case of an accident. DMORT is one federal team which can be called in to help if needed. DMORT has grown from its humble beginnings in the early 1990s to the current group of over 1200 trained and capable volunteers who respond at a moments notice to assist those in need.

Today managed by the U.S. Department Of Health & Human Services, Office Of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Office Of Preparedness & Emergency Operations, National Disaster Medical System section (NDMS), Disaster Mortuary Response Teams from ten regions throughout the United States are composed of private citizens, each with a particular field of expertise.  When activated by NDMS, the team members are compensated for their duty time by the Federal Government as a temporary Federal employee.  During a response, DMORTs work under the guidance of local authorities by providing technical assistance and personnel to recover and identify the remains of disaster victims.  The DMORTs are the primary responders to transportation accidents with the National Transportation Safety Board and work closely with other federal agencies to coordinate mass fatality victim identification planning and response.

 

 

 

 

What is DMORT?

 

What Is A Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT)?

The National Response Plan assigns the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Section under Emergency Support Function #8 (ESF #8) to provide victim identification and mortuary services. These responsibilities include:

temporary morgue facilities
victim identification
forensic dental pathology
forensic anthropology methods
processing
preparation
disposition of remains

In order to accomplish this mission, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORTs) were developed. DMORTs are composed of private citizens, each with a particular field of expertise, who are activated in the event of a disaster. DMORT members are required to maintain appropriate certifications and licensure within their discipline. When members are activated, licensure and certification is recognized by all states, and the team members are compensated for their duty time by the federal government as intermittent federal employees. During an emergency response, DMORTs work under the guidance of local authorities by providing technical assistance and personnel to recover, identify, and process deceased victims.

The DMORTs are directed by the NDMS. Teams are composed of funeral directors, medical examiners, coroners, pathologists, forensic anthropologists, medical records technicians and transcribers, finger print specialists, forensic odontologists, dental assistants, x-ray technicians, mental health specialists, computer professionals, administrative support staff, and security and investigative personnel.

 

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