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The Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORTs) were tasked with providing victim identification and mortuary services by the Federal Government through its National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under Emergency Support Function #8. DMORTs are composed of private citizens, each with a particular field of expertise, who are activated in the event of a disaster. The Federal Government compensates them for their duty time as temporary federal employees. DMORT members must maintain appropriate certifications and licenses within their disciplines that all states recognize. Activated DMORTs assist local authorities by providing technical assistance and personnel to recover, identify, and process deceased victims. DMORTs are directed by NDMS in conjunction with a regional coordinator in each of the 10 federal regions. During an emergency response, DMORTs work under the guidance of local authorities to coordinate disaster mortuary planning and response. Teams include forensic pathologists, forensic odontologists, forensic anthropologists, fingerprint specialists, funeral directors, morticians, embalmers, medical records technicians and transcribers, X-ray technicians, mental health specialists, security and administrative personnel, and support personnel. Within HHS, the U.S. Public Health Service’s Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP)/NDMS, in support of the DMORT program, maintains a Disaster Portable Morgue Unit (DPMU) at the OEP warehouse in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A DPMU is a depository of equipment and supplies for deployment to a disaster site. It contains a complete morgue with designated workstations for each processing element and for prepackaged equipment and supplies. For more information, contact DMORT, NDMS, and HHS at 1–800–USA–NDMS, or visit their Web site.


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Providing Relief to Families After a Mass Fatality
November 2002
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