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OVC Bulletin

Providing Relief to Families After a Mass Fatality

Roles of the Medical Examiner's Office and the Family Assistance Center

by Ray L. Blakeney

November 2002


Message From the Director
This bulletin will help medical examiners and coroners as they work with surviving families of crime victims. See also the Special Message to Medical Examiners.

Primary Issues and Concerns of the Victims' Families
Frequently asked questions (with answers) from victims' families following a mass fatality.

Example of a State/Federal Partnership To Provide Victim Assistance Services in a Medical Examiner's Office
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Oklahoma used Victims of Crime Act federal funds to help families of crime victims.

Lessons Learned About What Is Helpful When Working With Victims' Families
Medical examiners have learned through experience the importance of being considerate and allowing victims' families to make choices regarding the disposition of victim remains.

Family Assistance Center
Family assistance centers provide victims' families with information, support, and resources in an appropriate manner and setting. See the Summary of Site Selection Considerations for the Family Assistance Center and the Summary of Procedural Considerations for the Family Assistance Center.

Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams provide victim identification, mortuary, and technical services during an emergency response.

Formulating a Crisis Response Plan
Every community should have a plan in place to ensure coordinated, effective crisis response. See also Coordinating Long-Term Crisis Response Plans.

Promising Practices
Summaries of victim support tasks performed by various responding agencies.

Preplanning for an effective crisis response should be a collaborative effort among professionals in the emergency preparedness, medical and mental health, and victim assistance fields.

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The Office for Victims of Crime is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

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