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Emergency Preparedness and Management of Mass Fatalities: Pandemic Influenza (CLIN 2606)Emergency Preparedness and Management of Mass Fatalities: Pandemic Influenza (CLIN 2606)

Barbara Butcher, Chief of Staff, and Director of Forensic Investigations at the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner provides an overview of the core issues in Mass Fatality Management Operations as they apply to pandemic influenza. In this presentation, learners are presented with mass fatality plans suited toward H5N1, with a particular emphasis on the unique challenges posed to staff during such events. It is noted that unattended, unidentified and unclaimed bodies would increase dramatically during a pandemic influenza event, with health care facilities being overwhelmed caring for the living, and not having adequate storage space for the deceased. Ms. Butcher provides specific strategies and plans that can be used to better handle surge capacity during pandemics, while also providing useful examples from New York City’s current planning efforts. 


Name View Schedule
Online Lesson1. Pre-Test -
Online Lesson2. Course Material -
Online Lesson3. Post-Test -
Online Lesson4. Satisfaction Survey -


Course Objective:

The purpose of this course is to:

  • Provide an overview of pandemic influenza events as they relate to mass casualty planning
  • Describe mass casualty planning assumptions during pandemic influenza
  • Introduce ways to operationalize plans for recovery teams, body collection points, off-site morgues, and remains storage facilities.
  • Describe supply requirements for health care facilities

Key Messages:

  • Pandemic influenza events are inevitable and will tax health care facility in numerous ways. Consequently, long term planning is essential so that surge capacity can be adequately managed
  • Health care facilities will experience limited staff, supplies, and equipment, along with a dramatic rise in the deceased
  • Medical examiners and coroners must be prepared to play an active role in all aspects of the incident
  • Restraints placed on public gatherings will hinder normal final disposition ceremonies and practices, thus resulting in the need for long term storage capacity 


Public Health Emergency Preparedness Capabilities:

  • Surveillance and Intervention  
  • Countermeasure and Mitigation: Fatality Management 
    - Function 2: Activate public health fatality management operations
    - Function 3: Assist in the collection and dissemination of ante-mortem data
    - Function 5: Participate in fatality processing and storage operations


Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (CDC):

  • Model Leadership: 
    - 1.3. Facilitate collaboration with internal and external emergency response partners
  • Communicate and Manage Information: 
    - 2.4 Collect data according to protocols 
    - 2.5. Manage the recording and/or transcription of data according to protocols
  • Plan for and Improve Practice: 
    - 3.1. Contribute expertise to the development of emergency plans
  • Protect Worker Health and Safety: 
    - 4.2. Employ protective behaviours according to changing conditions, personal imitations, and threats.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the role of public health in emergency preparedness 
  • Identify and explain the relevance of each of the 7 core system capacities for public health preparedness 
  • Define and summarize the similarities and differences between an emergency and a disaster 
  • Summarize the purpose and importance of an emergency response plan 
  • Describe the utility of an incident command system in emergency response and identify where you fit within your organization’s chain of command 
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