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Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team
January 2002 - Special Edition - Attack on America


DMORT National Commander's Column
By Thomas J. Shepardson

On behalf of the victims, their families, and the many agencies that DMORT has interacted with since the terrible events of September 11, 2001, please allow me to say thank you to the members of DMORT who have given so unselfishly of their time and talents to help our country recover. Even though there is no way we will ever completely recover, your personal contribution to the recovery process has been an important asset to the country and your fellow Americans.

Many of our people have provided the necessary expertise to the people of New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania that has allowed these communities and the victim's families to have the confidence that everything humanly possible is being done to recover, properly identify and return the victims to their families. There has never been an event in the history of the United States that has pulled together all the assets of the various levels of government and the private sector into one common cause, as these events have, and DMORT has been an important and credible factor in that process. We can hold our heads and our hearts high for the dedicated efforts everyone has made

To give you the perspective of the magnitude of events over the past several months, let me give you some statistics: New York City World Trade Center event, 2,893 victims, of which 92 were on American Airlines Flight #11 and 65 were on United Airlines Flight #175; Washington DC, the Pentagon incident, 189 victims of which 64 were on American Airlines Flight #77; Somerset County, Pennsylvania incident, 44 victims, all on United Airlines Flight 93.

DMORT was reactivated for American Airlines Flight #578 which crashed in New York City on November 12, 2001 with 265 victims.

In all of these incidents DMORT has fulfilled our objective to support the local authorities. In each and every response that we have had over the nine year history of DMORT, we have lived up to that goal, to the credit of each of you. We must continue with this objective of support in each of our future responses as well. We are a resource of America, to be called upon knowing full well that we will arrive, accomplish our intended mission and leave, all the time supporting that local authority.

Thank you for a job well done, even though we are still performing our task in New York City until March 31, 2002. We give special thanks to those team members who spent the holidays away from their families on deployment. Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Years , which are special times in every family, were still work days to many of us. There was no holiday in the recovery and identification process.

We must also thank the employers who have allowed their employees to respond to these efforts. To the fellow employees who have accepted the added workload of covering the jobs left behind by those responding, and most of all to the families of our team members who have supported their efforts, we offer a special thanks.
There were many personal stories of experiences over the past several months and many honors that were behind the scenes. The New York City Police Department, the New York City Fire Department and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department were invited to participate in the first ballgame at Shea Stadium following the attack. They invited DMORT, as an outside agency, to participate with them in the ceremonies as part of their team. Several DMORT team members, in uniform, marched onto the field and held the large American flag that was displayed on the field. Shannon Dotson, in complete DMORT uniform, was asked to throw out a first ceremonial pitch with representatives of NYPD, FDNY and PAPD.

First Pitch at Shea Stadium Friday September 21, 2001

We were all honored as team players. Whether you were working at ground zero or the Medical Examiner's Office, off duty, or at home waiting to be activated these individuals represented you, as DMORT was included as a participant and team player on the billboards and the field of Shea Stadium. This, and a special invitation to attend the Thanksgiving Day parade and sit in the reserved grandstand seats were only a couple of the special honors. The greatest honor for everyone was to meet and work with some of the finest professionals in the world at each of these events. We are proud to be AMERICAN CITIZENS, and that has never been more evident than over the past several months. UNITED WE STAND.

NYC Skyline - September 11, 2001

We pass along our congratulations to Mark Russo, who was appointed Director of Operations at the Office of Emergency Preparedness last month. He replaces Gary Moore who was appointed Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness. We all look forward to working with Mark as part of the TEAM EFFORT we have all exhibited.

The National Disaster Medical System annual conference is approaching very quickly. Many of the preliminary details are behind schedule due to the ongoing activation. We will have a DMORT program again this year in Atlanta, GA from April 13 to April 17, 2002. The pre-conference program will be the Mass Fatality Course. Programs in computer training, family assistance and debriefing will be on the schedule along with presentations on the activities of the past several months.
We express our sympathy to Fred Berry, Region 4 Deputy Team Leader on the loss of his stepmother.

Another Day of Infamy
By Dennis McGowan

On the morning of September 11th just before 9:00AM a hijacked airliner crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Within 30 minutes a
The Pentagon September 11, 2001

second aircraft hit the south tower of the WTC. At about 10:00AM a third

hijacked commercial flight struck the Pentagon in Washington, DC and a fourth airliner crashed in a field in Somerset County, PA about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Within an hour both towers of the WTC collapsed.

Mobilization of DMORT Personnel began almost immediately to New York City and Washington, DC. In the period immediately following the attack the Pentagon decided to manage medical and mortuary needs with military resources and DMORT personnel were to be deployed to Pennsylvania on September 13th. This was the first time that DMORT assisted in an FBI investigation in this capacity.

The New York incident involved the establishment of separate operations at the New York City Medical Examiner's Office, at two Family Assistance Centers, at two ground zero sites and at the Staten Island landfill. The Disaster Portable Mortuary Unit was initially deployed to LaGuardia Airport in New York to serve as a temporary morgue. It was eventually relocated to the piers on the west side of Manhattan.

In Pennsylvania, the DMORT team grew to 57 members as the crash site was investigated and remains were collected for DNA testing. The operation was concluded on September 26th and DNA samples were forwarded for processing.

Pennsylvania Crash Site

In New York, the number of DMORT personnel grew to almost 300 at the peak of the operation, and remains at about 14 as of this weekend.

In all, 571 DMORT team members have been deployed at one time or another during these incidents. In addition to DMORT personnel there have been hundreds of members from Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT), Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT), National Medical Response Teams (NMRT), Management Support Teams (MST), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Commissioned Corps Readiness Force (CCRF), the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA), and other agencies, including the US military.

The USNS Comfort, a floating 250 bed rest facility for responders was deployed to New York and provided a rehabilitation center for many of the workers at ground zero during its two weeks on station. During that time the US Coast Guard provided harbor security and a contingent of US Marines provided security aboard ship.

In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11th the total number of dead and injured exceeds 3,000. In Washington the death toll reached 189, while 44 died in Pennsylvania. The New York City the number is just under 2900. The number of injuries in New York alone topped 4800.

Teams from every region have contributed to the recovery from the events of September 11th.

By Paul Sledzik
Commander, DMORT III

While several DMORT teams were deployed to New York to assist in the World Trade Center collapse response, the members of DMORT III traveled to Somerset, Pennsylvania, to provide victim identification services for the crash of United 93. The flight, which crashed in nearby Shanksville, carried 38 passengers and 6 crew. Among the passengers were four terrorists.

The Pennsylvania Team

The response was augmented by personnel from several other DMORT regions, in addition to two new DMORT specialty teams. Local responders and members of the state funeral director association also provided assistance. The team arrived on September 13 at the Somerset County National Guard armory, where the morgue had been organized. After meeting with the local and federal authorities, the team went to work on setting up the morgue operation. The local jurisdiction did a superb job of providing basic equipment for the facility.

This response marked several firsts, all of note because of their importance for future responses. These included the deployment of the DNA team, the establishment of protocols documenting the operation of each morgue section, responding under a memorandum of understanding with the FBI, the response of the FAC team and the collection of family blood reference samples, the inclusion of a formal triage station as the first morgue station, and the first use of the Kenyon International Services mobile morgue.

The FBI was the lead authority in the investigation because of the criminal nature of the crash. Although victim identification responsibilities resided with the local coroner, his capabilities were severely taxed. Attempts to have the site declared a federal disaster through the state proved unsuccessful. The FBI stepped in to establish a memorandum with HHS that allowed DMORT to respond. During the activation, the crash site was under the control of the FBI; the DMORT operation focused on the morgue and the family assistance center.

Since the DMORT morgue was deployed to New York, we relied on the mobile morgue of Kenyon International Services, Inc. Kenyon did an outstanding job of outfitting the morgue and providing supplies for the operation. The Kenyon team served as the "red shirts", locating supplies through local channels, tracking down unique equipment, and supporting the morgue operation to the fullest.

Pennsylvania Morgue Site

In their first response, the DMORT DNA team, headed by Dr. Joyce deJong, worked closely with personnel from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab (AFDIL). Given the particulars of the crash, DNA identification played a primary role in this response. The DNA team had trained earlier in 2001 at AFDIL, and the coordinated response with AFDIL proved beneficial.

The DMORT Family Assistance Center team, who had just completed training a few weeks before September 11, had their first chance to deploy to Pennsylvania and New York. In Pennsylvania, the team was headed by Cindy Arnold. The FAC team worked out of the Seven Spring Mountain resort, the site of the family center established by United Airlines. They worked closely with United, the Red Cross, and the NTSB to collect victim information. The national travel restrictions posed some problems in obtaining records, and some families chose not to travel to the assistance center. Collecting family reference blood samples for DNA analysis was established. A DMAT nurse collected and documented the samples from family members and helped to collect direct reference samples.

Given the legal investigative aspects of the crash, a decision was made to produce written protocols for each section of the morgue operation. Under the direction of Marilyn London, each section of the morgue operation produced a written protocol explaining how the section worked. These protocols were compiled, producing a document describing the particulars of the United 93 morgue operation. These protocols will serve as a tool to describe morgue procedures in the event of legal proceedings.

Given some of the concerns involving the numbering and processing of remains at previous responses, a triage station was established. Staffed by a pathologist, an anthropologist, and a dentist, the triage team sorted through the remains, first separating personal effects from remains. Once the personal effects were transferred to the FBI, the remains were examined to ascertain their potential for identification. Potentially identifiable remains were assigned a sequential number, a file was created, and the specimen was carried through the morgue operation. Non-identifiable remains were stored in containers, weighed daily, and stored in a separate area of the refrigerated truck. The triage process helped to focus work on remains that would most likely lead to identification, eliminated unidentifiable remains from the morgue flow (also reducing unnecessary paperwork), and greatly simplified the numbering system.

The DMORT response began on September 13 and concluded on September 25. While on site, ten positive identifications were made through dental and fingerprint examinations. As of December 2001, 40 of the passengers and crew had been positively identified. Four unique DNA profiles, representing the terrorists, have also been isolated. Thus, all passengers and crew have been identified to the extent possible.

DMORT III and their colleagues from Regions IV, V, IX, and X are honored to have served the brave passengers and crew of United 93, the "flight of heroes". The support and camaraderie between the local officials, the FBI, and the DMORT teams proved invaluable to team morale. While isolated from the events in New York and Washington, the team focused intently on their work. Each team member held a deep understanding of the importance of their role in providing the highest level of care to these victims.

The Morning of Sept. 11
By Cliff Oldfield
Team Leader, Region 2

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at the funeral home trying to get through the mountains of paperwork that we generate. The phone rang - " Cliff, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center" my manager, John Huff, informed me in disbelief.
We talked for a few minutes about how something like this could happen and the calls started to come in. John was very patient with being put on hold every 10 seconds. He knew at that point that he was losing me again. But for how long? The second plane hit as we were still talking and I told him that I had better get going and that I would be in touch. I called my wife and told her where I was going and that I was ok I asked about my oldest daughter, who works in Manhattan She had talked with her mother and was hooking up with her husband and brother-in law, who were also in Manhattan that day. They would make their way home to Long Island the best way they could.

I called a neighbor and asked him to drive me to the Medical Examiner's office at 1st Avenue and 30th Street. I told him not to go down 2nd Avenue because the 59th Street Bridge was closed and the traffic approaching the bridge would be horrible. He went down Lexington Avenue and we sailed. The people evacuating lower Manhattan had reached the streets and sidewalks of the area by now and were starting to create problems with the traffic flow. I walked from Lexington and 30th Street to1st Avenue where the Medical Examiner's office is located. As I walked those few blocks, I could smell and see the smoke from the fires burning at the WTC. At each intersection I stopped and looked south at the hole in the skyline where the buildings had stood not long ago.

David Schomburg, Director of Medical Legal Investigations, was in his office. The both buildings had collapsed at this point and we just looked at each other trying to comprehend what was happening. I had contacted Susan Rivera, our Regional Deputy and Joe Noll our Admin. Officer to get the team ready for the activation to come. The request for DMORT assistance was made and a decision by the Chief Medical Examiner to request the DPMU was made. The word came from Rockville to deploy the Team and a staging area was setup at Stewart AFB. Susan traveled to Stewart and Joe somehow made it to the ME office along with some Team members. David Schomburg made space for us in the conference room and provided phones for our use.

Bill Ambler, Commander of the DPMU Team, arrived in Manhattan late in the afternoon and we met with David Schomburg regarding placement of the DPMU. Several sites were inspected and a hanger at LaGuardia Airport was finally chosen. Bill assembled his team and started putting the morgue in place. The MST secured rooms in the Marriott LaGuardia hotel and the Team members from Regions I, II, IV and V started to arrive from Stewart AFB. A move to the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan was subsequently engineered. This move cut our travel time by more than half.

Meetings were held with the Medical Examiner's office to determine the needs for staffing the 24-hour a day, seven day a week operation that was to be mounted. Members of the Family Assistance Core Team were activated. Not only was DMORT to be involved with the WTC victims but also with the victims of the hijacked planes. Operations of the airlines family assistance center were set up in a hotel close to the Marriott LaGuardia. The initial WTC family assistance center was set up the night of the 11th at a lab building just south of the Medical Examiner's office on 1st Ave. Dr. Charles Hirsch, the Chief Medical Examiner, approved the DMORT VIP forms for use in interviewing families. The FAC was moved a number of times before it finally found a home at pier 94.

A Management Support Team was assigned to support the needs of the Team. The responsibilities of the MST included housing, travel of Team members, transportation to and from the various work venues, purchasing or providing equipment necessary for the mission , interface with the EOC and OEP in Rockville and the welfare of the Team members.

An administrative team was set up at the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel. This team's responsibilities included interface with the Management Support Team, scheduling of personnel at all venues, insuring a personnel pool large enough to fill the requested assignments and any matters relating to the welfare of all the Team members.

DMORT members were assigned to many jobs at the Medical Examiner's office. Data entry, tracker, runner, DNA specialists, scribes, forensic dentistry (both ante and post mortem), supply officers, mortuary officers, medical legal investigators, forensic anthropologist, evidence specialists and both ante mortem and postmortem record scanners.

Team members working at the family assistance center worked with the NYPD and input data from the family interviews into computers and worked in an advisory capacity to assist family members. Another group of family assistance team members worked with both American and United Airlines personnel to secure to information from the families of the victims aboard the hijacked planes.

Additional team members worked at Ground Zero. Functions there included chain of custody issues with recovered remains, determination of bones and tissue (human vs. non human) and determination as to whether recovered remains were members of service (fire, police, etc.) or civilian. DPMU team members were responsible for the setup and maintenance of the recovery morgues.

Team members also worked at the Fresh Kills landfill operation in Staten Island. Debris from the collapsed buildings is being brought there for further inspection by the NYPD and DMORT anthropologists became an integral part of that operation.

DMORT Team Members deployed to New York City numbered over 300 at the height of our response and while we are staffing only 14 positions presently, our continued presence is an integral part of the operation of the Medical Examiner's Office.

Dr. Hirsch and the personnel at the Medical Examiner's office have welcomed the assistance and expertise of the DMORT Team Members and continue to praise the continued support of their mission.

I can only tell you that I have never been prouder to be a DMORT member. To have worked with and come to know so many of our members from all the regions is an honor that I will always cherish.

This is certainly an overview of the DMORT response to the WTC and not meant to be a detailed report.

Frank A. Ciaccio, MPA, DABMDI
National Transportation Safety Board

Many of us will never forget the horrific tragedy that took place in our nation on September 11, 2001. On that day, terrorist, using a weapon that represents a great means of transportation, attacked our nation. Four jumbo jets struck strategic landmarks in our country that represent freedom, capitalism and the hard work of many men and women to build.

This tragedy was something many of us never thought would happen. Although we train for it, read about it and discuss what can happen, we can never prepare enough for the devastation that took place.

The NTSB along with many other federal agencies was taxed immediately by launching federal investigators and specialist to three different crash sites. Since this was a terrorist attack, the Federal Aviation Family Assistance Act did not apply. However, it was the only means of a structured plan that was available to handle a multiple mass disaster in the aviation industry.

Immediately the NTSB along with United Airlines, American Airlines, FBI, DOD, and HHS orchestrated a game plan that allowed for victims to be recovered, and identified as quickly as possible. In addition, provide families with information and support as needed.

It was the tremendous dedication, professionalism and support of DMORT that accomplished this goal. Many DMORT members worked long and countless hours at times in makeshift conditions.

In addition to the DMORT members in the morgue I want to recognize the outstanding work of the Family Assistance Center (FAC) core group and their team members. Many people don't realize that five days prior the attack, the FAC core group, NTSB, and HHS met in San Francisco to write the protocols and guidelines for this new team in DMORT. The dividends paid off ten fold. The team, at times, creating procedures as they went along, performed better then expected. Like many other teams present, the FAC group was divided among the three different crash sites. However, it was the team in NYC that without their commitment and dedication in obtaining family information the airlines would have been lost in a sea of bureaucracy.

Early on it was estimated that over 6,000 people were missing or presumed dead in the World Trade Center. The NYPD and medical examiner were over worked in obtaining missing persons reports and completing victim identification packets. The FAC core group under the leadership of Christie Whitaker, worked exclusively with the airlines to get all the information needed for NYPD and medical examiner. All interviews were done over the phone with no family members present at the family assistance center. This task was accomplished in less then a week. The airlines, NYPD and medical examiner greatly appreciated all the hard work done by this group.

DMORT is highly regarded among the airline industry and continues to raise the bar of excellence every time they are called upon. The NTSB Office of Family Affairs, ME/coroners cannot fulfill their mission and goal without the fine outstanding men and women of DMORT

On behalf of Chairman Blakey and the Office of Family Affairs, THANK YOU for your continued support and dedication to the identification of victims and families of aviation disasters.

Frank A. Ciaccio, MPA, DABMDI
National Transportation Safety Board

As the Manager of Forensic Sciences for the National Transportation Safety Board, I am called upon to speak to law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroners throughout the country. The reasons for these briefings are to educate the agencies on the Federal Aviation Family Assistance Act and the role of the Office of Family Affairs has at an accident.

I am amazed at how many times I am asked "is it true DMORT is in charge and will take over?" I cannot stress enough the support and cooperation DMORT will give to the medical examiner or coroner in achieving the goal of victim identification.

The only person who is in charge is the Medical Examiner or Coroner! The NTSB is there as the primary investigative agency and is responsible in determining the cause of the crash. In addition, NTSB will facilitate all local, state and federal resources in victim recovery and identification and oversee the Family Assistance Center with the air carrier.

Under a memorandum of understanding between HHS and NTSB, HHS will launch a DMORT team to SUPPORT the local medical examiner or coroner in positively identifying and returning victims to their families. Under no circumstance is DMORT taking over an operation for a medical examiner or coroner! DMORT will incorporate their morgue procedures into the operations of the local ME/coroner and work under one umbrella. DMORT is being provided because local resources are either taxed or non-existent.

I urge all DMORT members to become familiar with the role and responsibilities of DMORT. Most of the inaccurate comments come from members who currently work in local jurisdictions full time and are part time DMORT members who are not aware of what DMORT's authority and responsibilities are at an accident.


Marion Clifton Blakey was sworn in September 26, 2001 as the 9th Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Ms. Blakey has served in a number of positions in government, most recently as Administrator of the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (1992-1993). As the nation's leading highway safety official, she was charged with reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes.

For the last eight years, she has been the principal of Blakey & Associates, a Washington, D.C. public affairs consulting firm particularly focusing on transportation issues and traffic safety.

Ms. Blakey was extremely honored when President Bush nominated her for the position. " I look forward to the challenges ahead as the National Transportation Safety Board continues its decades-long mission of improving the safety of all modes of transportation during this critical time in our nation's history."

Ms. Blakey is very supportive of Family Affairs and is impressed with the outstanding commitment, dedication, and hard work of everyone at DMORT.

Ms. Blakey's current term as Chairman ends September 23, 2003. Her term as Member of the Safety Board ends December 31, 2005.

Mark Russo Appointed to OEP Post

Mark R. Russo was appointed Director, Division of Emergency Readiness and Operations (DERO), Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP), effective Sunday, November 4.

Mark served as the Chief of the Field Operations Branch, DERO/OEP, from July 15, 2001 until his appointment to his new post. In that capacity, Mark was responsible for providing leadership and direction in development and implementation of emergency response systems that include management of health and medical supplies and equipment, pharmaceuticals, biological products, telecommunications, transportation, equipment maintenance and repair, and other activities in support of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs), Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORTs), and other specialty response teams, and the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) operations.

Following the World Trade Center terrorist attack in September, Mark supervised the emergency health and medical response operations of more than 500 responders of the NDMS DMATs, DMORTs, Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMATs), a National Medical Response Team (NMRT) and a Management Support Team (MST). He coordinated emergency health and medical response operations with representatives of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, New York City Hospitals Association, State of New York, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mark has also worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where he was the Program Manager for the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System. He led 28 task forces comprising of more than 5,200 people that had diverse technical, social and organizational backgrounds in the performance of lifesaving missions during disasters.

He also served as Functional Leader for Emergency Support Function (ESF) #9, Urban Search and Rescue, of the Federal Response Plan. He has vast experience in coordinating the efforts of four emergency support functions: firefighting, health and medical recovery activities during disasters and emergencies, urban search and rescue, and hazardous materials. When at FEMA, he worked closely with OEP and the medical teams of each of the 28 NDMS urban search and rescue task forces. For more than 20 years, Mark has been involved at the local level with the delivery of emergency medical services during emergencies as a member of several volunteer fire departments. From July 1989 through December 1999, Mark also served in various capacities from Firefighter/EMT to Deputy Chief at the College Park Volunteer Fire Department.

Mark brings to OEP extensive experience and understanding of the emergency health and medical preparedness and response system and the application of the Federal Response Plan to disaster and emergency response.

Family Assistance Team Travels to Santo Domingo
By Christie Whitaker and
Robyn Bohn Borik
Family Assistance Core Group

On the morning of November 12, 2001 American Airlines flight 587 crashed in Queens, New York, and DMORT was once again activated to respond to a disaster. On Friday, November 16, four DMORT members (Cindy Arnold, Robyne Bohn Borik, Gary Daugherty and I) and seven NYPD detectives left for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to collect ante mortem information from family members of some of the passengers who died in the crash.

Passports in hand, DMORT identification badges hanging from our necks and suitcases in tow (filled with clothing suitable for cold weather, not tropical heat), we arrived at JFK Airport in the wee hours of the morning to begin our four day assignment.

We landed in Santo Domingo early afternoon, cleared customs and headed to our hotel. American Airlines personnel met with us, gave us a quick tour of their operations center and then directed us to the hotel desk where we secured our rooms. We moved into our rooms and began seeing families shortly thereafter.

We worked late into the evening that first night meeting a number of families and ending just in time to rush to the restaurant for dinner before they closed the serving at 10 P.M. We were in the islands where the blue water of the Caribbean is very inviting, and we worked. We had very little down time during our stay. The team began at 8:00 a.m. each morning and continued until all families had been seen, sometimes ending after 9:00 p.m. We worked in teams, one DMORT member and one NYPD detective. The detectives were fluent in Spanish, which facilitated the interview process, and we were helpful to them in securing DNA swabs. Overall our working with the detectives prove to be positive with each supporting the efforts of the other.

We were resourceful individuals. Life is different in the Dominican Republic from that which we are accustomed to in the U.S. Many factors could influence the events of the day, so it was necessary for us to remain flexible. It was virtually impossible to have good organization. Time is not an important issue with the islanders so scheduling was difficult. Additionally some families had difficulty finding transportation to the hotel where we were located thus we never knew when they might show up. The electricity would go off numerous times during the day without warning; the phones in our rooms may or may not work; the doors to our rooms may or may not lock and some of the keys fit a number of other doors in the complex. We discovered new ways to secure ourselves in our rooms while sleeping. The stay was pleasant with plenty of food, clean rooms and friendly and accommodating personnel at the hotel.

We worked hard, and we worked long hours. We accomplished what I consider to be more than adequate work. The families that we interviewed were very appreciative of our presence, of our desire to assist them and of the time we spent with them. Each of us has heart-warming stores to share about the families we met. I personally feel this trip was more about goodwill than about the amount of data we collected. We did gather some important information and a number of DNA samples, but our best work was in serving as ambassadors for the agencies involved.

It was a privilege for me to have had this experience, to have worked with the other DMORT team members and with the detectives and especially to have met and worked with the families of the victims. I returned to New York exhausted but thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this group and a member of DMORT.

American Airlines Flight 587
By Cliff Oldfield
Team Leader, Region 1

On the morning of November 12, 2002, I was in the lobby of the Chief Medical Examiner's Office when a Police Officer came in with the news of a plane crash. Where? What type of plane? Was it happening again? She did not know. I went into the conference room and asked the police officers if they had any information. They looked at me incredulously. One of them turned on the radio and put it on the citywide band. As you can imagine the radio traffic was enormous. I was amazed with the transmissions and learning how the response to yet another tragedy in NYC was being handled.

Flight 587 crashed in a residential area just outside JFK Airport. Homes were burning, jet fuel was in the sewer system. People were dying; 260 on the plane and 5 on the ground. The area of the crash, Belle Harbor, had already been devastated by the losses in the WTC tragedy and now another tragedy was unfolding in their small community. Many police officers and firemen live in the area and there had already been many funerals and memorial services held. Now there would be more, though unrelated to the WTC, but again tragic.

The response to the crash was swift. No survivors were found. The Medical Examiner's office dispatched a truck carrying body bags to the scene. This truck was manned by DMORT team members already on duty for the WTC Incident. The remains were recovered and transported to a temporary morgue located at Floyd Bennett Airfield in Brooklyn. The decision to transport the victims to the Manhattan facility of the Chief Medical Examiner was made early in the incident. Everything necessary to process the victims toward identification and return to their families was already in place.

An increase in the DMORT staffing at the Medical Examiner's office was requested and approved. The newly arrived Team members were put to work in the DNA lab. The FAC core team members were again reassembled and the computers were back up and humming again. VIP and WIN-ID were the words of the day. FAC team members were dispatched to the Dominican Republic to help interview families, gather the VIP forms and collect the DNA samples that had been provided by the victim's family members.

All of the victims, both on the ground and on the plane were recovered and identified; a daunting task in the midst of the continuing WTC recovery and identification. The Medical Examiner's office set up another database using the same procedures as the WTC incident. The procedures were the same. The morgue stations were the same with the exception that autopsies were performed on the victims of the flight 587 crash.

DMORT has earned the respect of everyone who comes in contact with us and I am proud to say I am a DMORT and stand shoulder to shoulder with other DMORT team members.

December 30, 2001

To Whom It May Concern:

I am an ordained Episcopal Priest, working on the site of World Trade Center Ground Zero, the Disaster Mortuary at Bellevue and the Staten Island Landfill. I work fulltime as a Disaster Chaplin and have been on-site since shortly after the attack of 9-11-2001.

As such, I have witnessed the dynamics of how the interacting organizations solved out how to do their particular piece of work and integrate it into the whole of the disaster relief effort. I feel compelled to comment on one of the numerous interacting groups which distinguished itself, in fact set itself
apart from all others, by its levelheaded, informed, focused approach. The DMORTS (a.k.a. Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team) appeared as a group
to have a foundational understanding of how to get started, then evolve, and carefully bring up the project for others to emulate.

And I feel it necessary to further underscore how critical their skills were when shockingly American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in Queens and again the cool-headed professionalism of the DMORTS took the lead on that highly emotional tragic day, Nov.12, 2001.

It was for those of us who had that early privilege to observe them in action, a real learning experience in Disaster Management to watch them handle all the complicated aspects of one tragedy on top of another. In a clearly unprecedented way, they systematically, calmly and methodically went forward with the critical work in what can only be described as an emotionally rarefied environment. Their devotion and attention to task under the most dire of circumstances warrants them, in my opinion, superlative recognition.

I am not the only onsite person to recognize this uniqueness which they
possess. It is, and has been my honor to serve alongside them. In my prayers I always thank God for the DMORTS, without whom we simply could not have done. I am truly blessed to count them as colleagues.

Rev. Betsey Parker
New York City

Region 4 and 6 Combine
Combined Region 4 and 6 training will be the first weekend in August in Charleston, SC. Details are being worked out now. We also hope to have a full WMD set up and demonstration in Charleston so everyone can see the operation in the works.

Region 4 has some DMORT jackets, DMORT patches & pins WMD patches & pins DMORT hats and window decals for sale. Those interested can email Gary Dougherty at GADARTY@AOL.Com

Region 10 Training

Region #10 is planning their annual training exercise for July 26 and 27 at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center, north of Tacoma. Some of this conference will include the Washington State Dental Association's Dental ID Team. Our training this last Fall, was scheduled to begin just three days after the disasters of 9-11 and had to be canceled. This year's plans are in their earliest planning stages but we will attempt to bring in some of those speakers that were scheduled then.

Also Region #10, as a team fund raiser, has several of the green DMORT lanyards available. Price, including the mailing, is $6 each. Please send your check to DMORT #10 to D.L. Bigoni at 301 N.E. Knott Street; Portland, OR 97212.

WMD Team
MAY 17-19

These are the official training dates for an upcoming DMORT WMD Team full-blown, hands-on practical exercise in Winston Salem, NC. For original team members, this is the refresher we need and for those who have never participated in one of these exercises, expect to be exposed to a tough training session. This should give those who are newer team members the awareness they have needed to understand what is expected while working in PPE for extended times under some realistic conditions.

The last exercise in Winston Salem allowed our WMD Team to work hand-in-hand with the NMRT/SORT (medical) Team from that area and utilize their equipment. Since those days, we have been designated as a stand alone team and provided with our own equipment. This will be a first so it is definitely going to be an eye-opening and learning experience.
As soon as more information becomes available you will be updated.

Steve Tinder
Deputy Commander