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Experiences gained from mass-fatality incidents, including the Oklahoma City bombing, reinforce the need to impose the structure of a family assistance center on an otherwise chaotic event. Although in most cases the response falls on the medical examiner or coroner who is local to the incident, preplanning for an effective crisis response should be based on the collaboration of many. Many lessons were learned from the Oklahoma City experience. The response efforts in Oklahoma City became another step forward in developing a more effective crisis response plan for the next disaster and its victims and their families. The Oklahoma City bombing became the impetus for congressional hearings, passage of special funding legislation for victim relief, training development, and identification and coordination of resources. Experts in many fields, including emergency preparedness, medical and mental health, and victim assistance, were motivated to examine their local crisis response plans and their capacity. The knowledge that we have today came from those involved in responding to victims and from the victims themselves, who have shared their painful experiences so that lessons could be learned and so their losses would not be in vain.

Recommendations presented in this report are not comprehensive, but they are practical and useful and will help refine and improve the crisis response to terrorism.


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Providing Relief to Families After a Mass Fatality
November 2002
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