Most government agencies concerned with public safety have disaster plans. Although some are linked to other agencies’ plans, others are not. In the event of mass fatalities, the local medical examiner or coroner should already have in place a plan to identify the victims properly. The purpose of this guide is to help the medical examiner or coroner prepare that portion of a disaster plan concerned with victim identification. The statutory duty of the medical examiner or coroner does not change as the number of victims increases. Whether there are one, a hundred, or thousands of victims, each should be accorded the same consideration under the laws governing the investigation of and response to sudden or violent death. Correct victim identification is essential to satisfy humanitarian considerations, meet civil and criminal investigative needs, and identify victim perpetrators.
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