Volume 47, Issue 1 (January 2002)
Dental Participants in Mass Disasters—A Retrospective Study with Future Implications
Mass casualty incidents continue to require the services of forensic dentists to determine the identity of victims. Across North America and Europe, teams of forensic dentists train, using mock disaster exercises, to prepare for such duties. It is vital that these mock exercises simulate the features of real disaster situations as far as possible. In order to inform those responsible for the design and implementation of mock exercises, a study was undertaken to determine the features of actual disasters that dental personnel had attended. Using a questionnaire, data were solicited from 38 odontologists. The average number of disasters attended by the respondents was eight, with an average casualty number of 94. Aircraft crashes were the most frequent cause of disasters that were attended by the odontologists. The authors conclude that future mock disaster exercises should replicate features of aircraft crashes as closely as possible by using commingled, fragmented, and burned remains. In addition, mock disasters should require the identification of a realistic number of individuals to ensure authenticity and the maximum logistical preparedness of participants.