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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams

National Disaster Medical System

When natural or man-made disaster strikes, sometimes there are more fatalities than local resources can manage. Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORTs) support local mortuary services on location, working to quickly and accurately identify victims and reunite victims with their loved ones in a dignified, respectful manner.


DMORT

DMORTs are deployed to supplement federal, state, local, tribal and territorial resources at the request of local authorities. On location during or after transportation accidents, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and pandemics such as COVID-19, they focus on the recovery, decontamination, examination, identification, and return of deceased victims to help families, friends and communities find closure.


DMORT team members include:

  • Coroners 
  • Funeral directors/mortuary officers 
  • Medical examiners 
  • Forensic specialists (anthropologists, odontologists, pathologists)  
  • Dental assistants 
  • Autopsy assistants 
  • Fingerprint specialists 
  • Administrative specialists 
  • Logistics specialists 
  • Security specialists 
  • Safety specialists

DMORT Capabilities

DMORT members provide technical assistance and consultation on fatality management and mortuary affairs. DMORTs may be called on to provide a wide range of services, including but not limited to:

  • Tracking and documenting human remains and personal effects 
  • Establishing temporary morgue facilities 
  • Assisting in the determination of cause and manner of death 
  • Collecting ante-mortem data 
  • Collection of medical records, dental records, or DNA of victims from next of kin to assist in victim identification 
  • Performing postmortem data collection 
  • Documentation during field retrieval and morgue operations 
  • Performing forensic dental pathology and forensic anthropology methods 
  • Preparing, processing, and returning human remains and/or personal effects to appropriate recipients
  • Processing and re-interment of disinterred remains
  • Providing technical assistance and consultation on fatality management and mortuary affairs

  • This page last reviewed: May 10, 2021