1st Edition

Mass Fatalities
Managing the Community Response

ISBN 9781439849026
Published October 13, 2011 by CRC Press
421 Pages 65 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

A mass fatalities response goes far beyond returning the remains of a loved one to surviving family members. Those charged with this grim but critical responsibility will find themselves immersed in multiple tasks involving diverse individuals, organizations, and priorities. Mass Fatalities: Managing the Community Response examines multiple complex issues while providing practical guidance to communities and responders as they plan for, respond to, and recover from a mass fatalities incident. This book explores the immense array of tasks such as:

  • Managing resources and personnel
  • Protecting a potential crime scene
  • Conducting a comprehensive search and recovery of the remains
  • Identifying and returning the remains and personal effects
  • Ensuring family members of the deceased are treated with compassion, dignity, and respect
  • Making sure responders have the proper tools to complete their responsibilities
  • Providing family members, responders, and the impacted community the necessary support to cope with the physical, spiritual, and emotional stressors of a mass fatalities incident

The book explains in detail the functions performed at the mass fatalities operational sites, including the Disaster Site, Victim Identification Center, Family Assistance Center, and Staff Processing Center. It provides organizational charts with job descriptions detailing the roles and responsibilities for an effective leadership team and describes the management of the disaster site, presenting step-by-step procedures for search and recovery. The book also discusses the registration, initial interview, and Notification of Death for family members at the Family Assistance Center and covers best practices for the Victim Identification Center operations. Throughout, chapters emphasize the need for mental health services—exploring the essential elements of providing effective and compassionate support to surviving family members (including children), to responders and their families, and to the community.

An increase in catastrophic disasters in recent years has highlighted the need for sound guidance outlining the protocol for handling these events. Mass Fatalities: Managing the Community Response is an indispensable resource for this formidable task.

Peter Teahen discusses the book in a video on the CRC Press YouTube channel.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction to Mass Fatalities

What Is a Mass Fatalities Incident?

What Is the "Threshold Number" for Activating a Mass

Fatalities Response Plan?

Four Categories of Disasters

Tenets of a Mass Fatalities Response

Additional Tenets of a Mass Fatalities Response

Core Planning Issues

Psychological and Social Impact of a Mass Fatalities


Public Information during a Mass Fatalities Response, Robert Howard

Incident Command (ICS)

Chapter Reflections

Chapter 2: Disaster Site


Key Definitions

Disaster Site Chain of Command

Support Functions at the Disaster Site

Disaster Site Staff

Initial Assessment

General Guidelines for Disaster Site Operations

Search and Recovery Team General Guidelines

Disaster Site Search Operations

Search Operations at the Disaster Site

Monitoring the Disaster Site

Closure of Disaster Site

Disaster Site Closure Checklist

Disaster Site Supply List

Chapter Reflections

Chapter 3: Family Assistance Center


Site Selection Considerations

Defining the Term Family Member

Family Assistance Center Leadership Team

Family Assistance Center Support Services

Family Assistance Center Staffing

Family Assistance Center Operational Guidelines

Crisis Hotline Services

FAC Service Areas

FAC Registration Common Family Reactions

Family Assistance Center Family Intake Process

FAC Family Orientation

Health Services



Family Assistance Center Child Care Center, Judy Bezon

Notification of Death

NTSB Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance Division

Joint Family Support Operations Center (JFSOC)

Victim Support Tasks (VST)

FAC Family Member Registration Form

FAC Family Member Statement of Health

FAC Family Member Authorization Form

Funeral Information and Release Form

Media Request Form

Chapter Reflections

Chapter 4: Staff Processing Center


Planning for Staffing a Mass Fatalities Incident

Staffing Resources

Local Documentation of Disaster Responders

The Staff Processing Center

Staff Processing Center Leadership Staff

Staff Processing Center Support Functions

SPC Staff Qualifications

SPC Staff Orientation

SPC Daily Staff Registration

Staff Policies

Registration of Response Staff

Reassignment of Staff

Staff Orientations

Security Badges

Staff Lodging

Out-Processing of Staff

Staff Processing Center Facility Specifications

Staff Processing Center Work Areas

Forms and Supplies

Staff Processing Center Supply List

Staff Registration Form

Staff Registration Form

Statement of Health

Staff Daily Registration

Confidentiality Standards Agreement Form

Description of Staff Responsibilities and Duties

Chapter Reflections

Chapter 5: Victim Identification Center


Victim Identification Center Site Selection Considerations

Victim Identification Center Site Selection

Victim Identification Center Site Command Structure

The Role of Medical Examiner

Support Functions at the Victim Identification Center

Mortuary Care at the Victim Identification Center

Radiological Exam

Victim Identification Center Office Workspace Area

Victim Identification Center Mortuary Transportation Area

Victim Identification Center Personal Effects Area

Staff Respite Center Area

Government Resources

Health Hazards of a Mass Fatalities Incident

Storage of Remains

Long-Term Storage of Remains

Cremation of Mass Fatalities Remains

Establishment of Communal Burial Sites

Special Considerations for Remains Processing

Victim Identification Center Release Procedures

Closure of the Victim Identification Center

Victim Identification Center Documentation

Victim Identification Center Supply List

Chapter Reflections

Chapter 6: Coping with Stress


Stress and the Disaster Responder

Disaster Worker Phases

Stress Reactions of Workers during Disasters

Crisis Intervention


Key Concepts of Crisis Intervention

Spectrum of Care

Typical Reactions versus Need for Referral

Disaster Losses

Emotional Phases of a Disaster

Trauma and the Handlers of Remains

Emotional Responses to Terrorism

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Children’s Reaction to Trauma

Reactions of Children by Age

Cultural Considerations

Tools of Crisis Intervention


Self-Care by Responder

Role of Spiritual Care, Julie Taylor

Community Partnerships

Mental Health and Spiritual Care Leadership

Chapter Reflections



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Peter R. Teahen is a Funeral Director and founder of the International Mass Fatalities Center and AmericaReady. He has responded to disasters since 1989 and has written and lectured extensively on managing mass fatalities incidents. He has served as a national media spokesperson and a Government Liaison Officer for the American Red Cross and has been interviewed on such programs as Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Oprah, Weather Channel, Fox News, the British Broadcasting Company and Aljazeera. Mr. Teahen has been involved in leadership roles in more than forty-five major disasters throughout the U.S. and globally including the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, the Alaska Air Flt 261 and Egypt Air Flt 990 aviation disasters, Hurricane Katrina 2005, the Indonesian Tsunami 2004, and the Haiti earthquake of 2010.  He is recognized for his work on aviation disasters and is internationally known for his work and lectures in critical incident stress management and the psychological and social impact of disasters. He is the recipient of numerous national awards including the National Public Spirit Award. Previous recipients include Ronald Reagan, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ann Landers, and Dr. Robert Schuller.


Featured Author Profiles

Author - Peter R.  Teahen

Peter R. Teahen

President, International Mass Fatalities Center (IMFC)
Cedar Rapids, IA, United States

Learn more about Peter R. Teahen »


I really like the Reflection Questions at the end of each chapter - nice touch! I haven't seen this in other disaster books. ... Excellent job!
—Diane Myers, RN,MSN

 ... has good applicability for people to use in community planning for mass fatalities incidents.
—Karyn Yaussy, Catawba County Emergency Management

The content flow is understandable, there is continuity of thought, and the presented information is factually correct.
—Garold D. Huey, BS, FDIEMB