Elias Kontanis and Max Green, from the Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance (TDA), traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to provide a series of presentations on NTSB’s TDA family assistance program and mass fatality operations to the Alabama Department of Public Health, State Mortuary Operational Response Team (SMORT). The two-day training, held February 5th and 6th, was attended by 56 representatives from SMORT who are responsible for supporting county coroners or medical examiners with victim recovery and identification operations in the event of a mass fatality incident.
SMORT members are recruited from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, the Alabama Coroners Association, and the Alabama Funeral Directors Association. “The expertise of Kontanis, who facilitates medicolegal operations for TDA, and Green, who coordinates local agency services for family assistance operations, was invaluable to the SMORT in their ongoing planning efforts,” said Paul Sledzik, TDA chief.
In addition to presentations on large volume morgue operations and the quality assurance program development, participants engaged in a table-top mass fatality exercise that focused on the principal components of a mass fatality response: search and recovery, morgue operations, victim information/ante mortem data collection, and identification data synthesis. Participants also received awareness training on the NTSB investigative process, family assistance legislation, and family assistance center operations.