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Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT)

A Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team or DMORT is a team of experts in the field s of victim identification and mortuary services. DMORTs are activated in response to large scale disasters United States to assist in the identification of deceased individuals and storage of the bodies pending the bodies being claimed.

DMORT members work under the local authorities of the disaster site and their professional licenses are recognized by all states.

Basic Medical Triage Kit

DMORT Teams:

  • REGION I (ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI)
  • REGION II (NY, NJ, PR, VI)
  • REGION III (PA, MD, DC, DE, VA, WV)
  • REGION IV (AL, KY, TN, NC, SC, GA, MS, FL)
  • REGION V (MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH)
  • REGION VI (NM, TX, OK, AR, LA)
  • REGION VII (NE, IA, KS, MO)
  • REGION VIII (MT, ND, SD, WY, UT, CO)
  • REGION IX (AZ, NV, CA, HI)
  • REGION X (WA, AK, OR, ID)

DMORTs are organized under the Department of Health and Human Services National Disaster Medical System. The DMORTs are composed of medical examiners, coroners, funeral directors, forensic anthropologists, fingerprint specialists, dental assistants and radiographers.

They are supported by medical records technicians and transcribers, mental health specialists, computer professionals, administrative support staff, and security and investigative personnel. When a DMORT is activated, the personnel on the team are treated and paid as a temporary Federal employee.

FEMA maintains two Disaster Portable Morgue Units (DPMU) which are staged at FEMA Logistics Centers; one in Rockville, Maryland and San Jose, California. Each DPMU is a cache of equipment and supplies for a complete morgue with designated workstations for each process the DMORT team is required to complete.

In the 1980s, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) formed a committee to address the need for a way of dealing with mass casualty situations. The group had the goal of formulating a plan for funeral directors to deal with the situation. As the committee worked on the plan, it was revealed that such a situation would call for multiple forensic specialties. The committee created the first portable morgue unit in the country.

The committee's work came to the attention of the Federal Government following the complaints of families whose family members had been lost in airline incidents. The families felt that the remains hadn't received adequate treatment. Congress passed the Family Assistance Act in 1996. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSM) was assigned the role managing the Federal response to aviation disaster victims and their families. The division responsible for this response was the Office of Family Affairs, later renamed the Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance. The NTSB made use of DMORTs to handle large scale transportation disasters.

First Aid Kit

Following the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, the DMORTs were moved into the Emergency Preparedness and Response directorate as part of the National Disaster Medical System.

For the World Trade Center disaster, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson activated the National Disaster Medical System. It was the first time this federally coordinated response system had been activated on a full nationwide basis.

As of 2006, DMORT is operating the Find Family National Call Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is the center of all operations concerning the location and reuniting of families scattered by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Out of nearly 13,000 people reported missing after the impacts of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma, nearly 7,000 have been found alive and reunited with their families.