NYS Funeral Directors Train for Mass Fatalities

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NYSFDA’s Family Assistance Commission Members Participate in a Mass Fatality Incident Response Training in Albany.

Trainings such as this allow us to better handle, support or prepare for a mass fatalities incident effectively, by properly caring for the dead as well as the living.

Members from the New York State Funeral Directors Association's Family Assistance Commission (FAC) traveled to Albany recently to participate in a Mass Fatality Incident Response course presented by the NYS Office of Emergency Management. The program – designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency – was targeted for local and state responders who may be responsible for the recovery, handling, identification, and return of remains following a mass fatality incident.

“The session served as an invaluable source of information for NYSFDA's FAC team,” said Douglas R. Brueggemann, Committee Chair. “Trainings such as this allow us to better handle, support or prepare for a mass fatalities incident effectively, by properly caring for the dead as well as the living.”

NYSFDA's FAC is comprised of a group of trained, licensed funeral directors from across the state that stand ready to assist New York State’s local governments in the event of a disaster occurring within their borders.

According to Marianne Reid, Director of FAC, “After such a disaster, our team would use their skills to interview survivors/next-of-kin and process paperwork to assist in identifying and facilitating the release of remains to the next-of-kin or other representatives. Our FAC members have been chosen based on their broad experience working with families throughout the United States after a disaster causing mass fatalities has occurred.”

FAC operates under the auspices of the New York State Tribute Foundation (Tribute), which is the non-profit charitable arm of NYSFDA.

FAC members are prepared to work in tandem with those coordinating disaster response efforts and all other participants to ensure that providing vital services during a time of extreme confusion and grief proceed as smoothly as possible. The FAC’s primary role will be to conduct interviews with the next-of-kin to collect information about the missing or deceased to help in identification. The FAC’s services may be engaged simply and quickly as soon as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would jointly be agreed-upon between Tribute and the local municipality designated to lead the disaster response efforts. FAC provides its services without charge.

Objectives of the two-day training were to:

  •     Identify resources that are available at the local, State, and Federal levels during a mass fatalities incident.
  •     Identify the roles and responsibilities of key players in a mass fatality disaster response.
  •     Discuss critical operation activities: notification, staging, search and recovery, morgue operations, media relations, and family assistance.
  •     Explain how a Family Assistance Center is used to support families and to aid identification of the deceased.
  •     Recognize the importance of critical Incident Stress Debriefings for responders at a mass fatalities incident.

The following is a list of current NYSFDA FAC members:

  •     Douglas R. Brueggemann, Chair – Suffolk County
  •     Margaret Coyle – Suffolk County
  •     Edward J. Fischer – Broome County
  •     Leslie A. Francisco, CFSP – Queens County
  •     Kenneth Grosser – Nassau County
  •     Vincent D. Iocovozzi – Herkimer County
  •     Charles N. Lecesse – Suffolk County
  •     Randy W. McIntire – Genesee County
  •     Christopher M. Milano – Putnam County
  •     Edward J. Mockler – Nassau County
  •     Louis W. Morse – Orange County
  •     Joseph R. Noll – Nassau County
  •     Stephanie N. Nowak-Bernius – Nassau County
  •     Susan O’Connor – Orange County
  •     Mark T. Phillips – Saratoga County
  •     Wesley A. Powell – Suffolk County
  •     Warren H. Riles, CFSP – Chautauqua County
  •     Norman Waterman, CFSP – Wayne County
  •     Douglas R. Wilson – Chenango County

For more information, or to enlist the services of FAC, please contact Marianne Reid, Director of Family Assistance Commission at 800-291-2629 or marianne(at)nysfda(dot)org.

Founded in 1889, the New York State Funeral Directors Association, Inc., represents over 900 member firms and 3300 licensed funeral directors in New York State, and is the oldest state association of funeral directors in the United States. The Association is headquartered in Albany.

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