Fatality management is the ability to coordinate with organizations (e.g., law enforcement, healthcare, emergency management, and medical examiner/coroner) to ensure the proper recovery, handling, identification, transportation, tracking, storage, and disposal of human remains and personal effects; certify cause of death; and facilitate access to mental/behavioral health services for family members, responders, and survivors of an incident. Coordination also includes the proper and culturally sensitive storage of human remains during periods of increased deaths at healthcare organizations during an incident.

A Mass Fatality Incident (MFI) may be caused by natural hazards (e.g. floods, tornadoes), human-related hazards (e.g. airline or bus crashes, bridge collapse), pro-active human hazards (e.g. terrorist acts), or infectious diseases, such as pandemic influenza.

The Mass Fatality Response and Management Plan should focus on mortuary surge capacity and an approach to properly plan, respond and manage a disaster incident. The plan should include training and backup measures for all components and must be incorporated with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), utilize the Incident Command System (ICS), and other mortuary protocols of the healthcare facility and county emergency plans.

Healthcare organizations’ Mass Fatality Management (MFM) Plans must overlap with their local county plans, administered by the emergency management team and overseen by the local Coroner. In addition, healthcare organizations must engage all local partners including law enforcement, fire, Emergency Medical Services, crisis counselors, funeral directors, and other local stakeholders.

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