Managing Mass Fatality Events

The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office (JCMEO) is responsible for the managing of Mass Fatality events that occur in Jackson, Clay, Cass and Platte counties in Missouri. A Mass Fatality event is described as any occurrence of multiple deaths that overwhelm the usual routine capacity of the Medical Examiner or Coroner. Recent events and the emergent threats of continued terrorist activity emphasizes the need for public sector agencies to plan for a coordinated response to a Mass Fatality event. Agencies small and large, urban and rural need to be prepared for an event that will exceed their operations capacity.

The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office has a written mass fatality plan and is trained on the use of an operational portable morgue. The Medical Examiner is responsible for processing and identifying the victims of the mass fatality event.

Portable Morgue
The portable morgue can be set up at a location away from the JCMEO and contains all the equipment for forensic operations to begin, without disrupting the day to day operation of the JCMEO. The equipment used in the portable morgue was purchased through both grant funding obtained by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and funds from the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office. A forensic team of volunteers has formed the Kansas City Regional Mortuary Operational Response Group (KCRMORG) and periodically holds field operation training. The KCRMORG is a regional asset for Missouri and Kansas.

Training Events
The training consists of setting up the Victim Identification Center which interviews family members of missing persons in the event and obtains necessary personal information of the missing person that can be used later for identification. The KCRMORG is a regional asset for 9 counties in Missouri and Kansas. The team also trains on victim recovery and morgue operations. The JCMEO also participates in the Emergency Operations Center to update information regarding recovery efforts and needed resources from the impacted area.

If the Jackson County Medical Examiner evaluates the event and makes the decision that the event is too large to be handled by local resources, the decision to request State and/or Federal assistance through the Emergency Operations Center can be made.

Mass Fatality Training
A training dummy is utilized as part of a portable morgue exercise.