It’s an unfortunate truth that there are an increasing number of mass casualty events occurring. Whether its weather related, a multiple motor vehicle accident or a mass shooting, it is essential to be prepared to deliver calm to the chaos. During these events there can be many unconscious, and even deceased that are not easily identifiable. Emergency state, county and local emergency management are faced with families and friends seeking information about missing loved ones and/or separated/unaccompanied children can be reunified.
The first challenge is collecting information about the missing person from family members. The act of collecting information in an event, from people that are unprepared, understandably in an emotional state where they are not able to provide the best quality information, is difficult at best. It is compounded when the organization collecting the information does not have access to modern, digital tools to facilitate rapid, accuracy improving collection.
Once collected the challenge is prioritizing inquiries and ensuring that communication occurs as frequently and as accurately as possible on what can be hundreds if not thousands of reported missing individuals. We’ve personally witnessed organizations handing family members paper on clipboards to collect information in crowded rooms, to then have team members enter the information into rudimentary or makeshift systems as their primary tools. It goes without saying these organizations were doing their best, but response times were painfully slow for worried family members.
If you are fortunate enough to have never been involved in mass casualty event, the process generally starts with a basic intake form. It covers the essential information that enables team members to cross reference against another list or system for those individuals that are easily identifiable. For those that are not easily identifiable, team members interview family members a second time with an exhaustive list of questions that are again recorded on paper, then re-entered into another system. The information is then used for a bed-to-bed or sadly in the morgue for a manual identification process is attempted.
Although we have not solved all the challenges in this process yet, we do strive to create solutions that will streamline and simplify this process as much as possible. Our Family Reunification Service (FRS) has been created to provide a digital intake process, enabling family members to enter information from anywhere in the world. The data is then available in real-time to team members, who are equipped with state of the art organizing, searching, and matching tools in over 200 languages.