NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


January 21, 1998

Washington, DC - The National Transportation Safety Board will host a international symposium, to be held on September 28-29 in Arlington, Virginia, to discuss the role of government and industry in the care of victims and their families following major transportation disasters.

The Safety Board is hosting the international event in an effort to promote an understanding of the federal government's role at major transportation disasters. Further, the Board is attempting to educate individuals and organizations responding to these events by asking them to publicly discuss experiences and new techniques in disaster resource management. Chairman Jim Hall, who has advocated the need for a more structured support system for accident victims and their families, saw the need for this symposium and believes the exchange of information will assist all parties involved in responding to an incident.

"Proper planning and pre-crash exercises are key to an effective response," said Hall, "and I am confident that this symposium will advance efforts made to facilitate a professional and compassionate response to victims and their families after a disaster. This symposium will provide a unique opportunity for all those responding to a transportation disaster to share their experiences and participate for the first time in many beneficial workshops, including developing and enhancing effective response plans, the importance of debriefing those involved, and exploring resources available."

On October 9, 1996, President Clinton signed the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act that gave the NTSB the role of lead federal agency in addressing the needs and concerns of aviation accident victims and their families. This Act has recently been extended to require foreign carriers flying in or out of the United States to file with the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board a family assistance plan to be used in case of an accident on U.S. soil. This addition to the original law was endorsed by the Task Force on Assistance to Families of Aviation Disaster, co-chaired by Chairman Hall and Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater. The international symposium will have as participants members of that task force, including the American Red Cross.

The Board has exercised its responsibilities at the site of four aviation accidents since the passage of the law. Members of the Family Affairs staff were on site at the United Express accident in Quincy, Illinois on November 19, 1997; Comair in Monroe, Michigan on January 9, 1997; Korean Airlines in Guam on August 5, 1997; and Scenic Air in Montrose, Colorado on October 8, 1997. In addition, Board staff have worked closely with family members of accidents that had already occurred when the law was passed, primarily US Air flight 427, Valujet flight 592, and TWA flight 800.

The two-day international symposium will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington. Registration materials are on our Web page www.ntsb.gov or you may contact the Safety Board directly.

NTSB Media Contact: Matt Furman (202) 314-6100
NTSB Symposium Contact: Liz Cotham (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.