Disaster preparedness isn’t an exact science; you can’t look into the future and see what’s coming. You can only utilize the information you have and make predictions based on it. You’ll have to make decisions based on data to refine your disaster response. What’s the size of your municipality or jurisdiction? Is it a dense urban environment, suburban, or a sparsely populated rural community? Is it located on or near a coast or large body of water? Is it prone to flooding, earthquakes, and other natural disasters? Is the population younger or older? Are there industrial facilities or power plants nearby? The answers to all of these questions will determine your area’s specific needs for disaster response and mass fatality trailers.
A mobile morgue unit is simply a morgue that can be quickly deployed and set up in place of an official morgue facility. They are used when the influx of decedents is so great that regular morgue facilities are filled to capacity. A mobile morgue unit is fully equipped to perform all the necessary functions of any morgue system, including autopsies and various forms of data collection on human remains to help medical examiners determine the identity and/or cause of death. So, what are the capabilities of a mobile morgue unit and how can they help prepare for disaster?
When the unthinkable occurs, it is crucial to have plans in place to minimize the effects of both mass casualty and mass fatality events. While these events may take place simultaneously, there are different considerations when addressing both situations. In short, the priority for mass casualty events includes tending to the wounded survivors, whereas the priority for mass fatality events focuses on respectfully handling decedents. However, the differences do not stop there in emergency preparedness. It’s imperative that those planning and handling standard operating procedures for emergency response know the difference in services needed.
A mass fatality event occurs when the number of dead overwhelms the local healthcare system and morgue facilities. Whether the event is natural or man-made, a jurisdiction’s disaster preparedness plans should involve portable mobile morgues and refrigerated trailers as part of a proper and comprehensive disaster response, whatever the death toll may be.
No specific manner of death or number of fatalities defines a mass fatality incident. According to the National Association of Medical Examiners, a mass fatality incident is defined as “any incident resulting in more decedents to be recovered than can be managed in the local Medical Examiner/Coroner jurisdiction.” This broad definition can cover anything from a mass shooting or a weather event like Hurricane Katrina to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep in mind that mass fatality and mass casualty are two different things. But what is the difference between a mass fatality incident and a mass casualty incident?
Preparation for a disaster or a mass fatality event doesn’t just involve administering health care or distributing food and water to people in need. It also means being ready to handle the influx of deceased victims that are the result of such an incident, and doing so in a way that is dignified and sanitary.
Not every local health department is equipped to accommodate such a surge, and as the recent novel coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated, disasters really can happen anywhere and at any time. Unfortunately, most local health departments in America are still underprepared for mass casualty.
When a tragedy overwhelms a local facility’s ability to handle the bodies, a portable morgue trailer from Penn Care is necessary to provide adequate and respectful housing for the victims.
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