NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB CHAIRMAN HERSMAN DISCUSSED THE NEED FOR FAMILY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS DURING REMARKS AT INTERNATIONAL AIR SAFETY SEMINAR, ANNOUNCED SAFETY BOARD'S 2011 INTERNATIONAL FAMILY ASSISTANCE CONFERENCE

November 3, 2010

Washington, DC - National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman today stressed the need to create a more formal process worldwide to assist survivors and family members of aviation accidents.  Also, at the 63rd annual International Air Safety Seminar in Milan, Italy, she announced the upcoming international family assistance conference to be hosted by the NTSB, in Washington, D.C., on March 28 and 29, 2011.

"I have been on-scene at approximately 20 major transportation accidents, and I can tell you first-hand that having the family assistance team on site is a great asset," Hersman said.  "And, based on conversations with colleagues from other transportation safety organizations around the world, there is a growing need for family assistance programs."   

In her remarks, Hersman highlighted the passage, by Congress, of the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act in 1996 which requires airlines in the United States to have disaster contingency plans in place so assistance can be deployed immediately after a tragedy occurs.  The Act also assigned the Safety Board the responsibility to oversee the government's family assistance efforts.  To meet this need, the NTSB created a Transportation Disaster Assistance (TDA) division and hired professionals from the mental health and forensic pathology fields.  TDA is responsible for overseeing the four critical aspects of family assistance: notification to families, dissemination of information about the accident and investigation, victim recovery and identification, and locating and returning personal effects.
 
"For more than 13 years, TDA has been directing family assistance in the United State and our outstanding professionals are prepared to handle almost any circumstance that arises," Hersman said.  "This has taken time and a willingness to constantly learn and refine our approach.  Ultimately, we judge our success by real, on the ground results."

NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams
202-314-6100
williat@ntsb.gov

 

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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.