St. Louis-Area Regional Response System Mass Fatality Trainings

The St. Louis Regional Response System (STARRS), through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, contracted with BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) to train local officials and emergency managers in Missouri and Illinois on best practices for mass fatality operations during disasters. The curriculum was designed around the area’s unique needs and existing processes to ensure a customized, practical response capability was established. 
 
The STARRS is comprised of emergency response leaders from the bi-state St. Louis area, which encompasses the City of St. Louis; Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties in Missouri; and Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties in Illinois. 
 
“The New Madrid Fault poses one of the greatest catastrophic threats to our nation. On the line are lives, infrastructure, and the economy,” said Kari Tatro, BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management. “Without comprehensive and effective planning for mass fatalities, the devastation could be too much to recover from.” 
 
BCFS EMD’s trainings for STARRS focused on site field and recovery; disaster morgue services; and victim identification. In addition to being designed around the unique needs of the STARRS, specific exercises and practical application activities were based on guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s “Exercise Evaluation Guide for the Fatality Management Target Capability.” The three specific training courses lasted two days, and each included a practical, hands-on exercise that applied learning concepts presented in the classroom. 
 
One participant said he most enjoyed the “instructor’s ability to relate real world events to training concepts and interaction with peers/partners.”
 
“This series of classes was exceptional; amongst the best training I have attended. Very knowledgeable and well qualified instructors,” he continued.
 
BCFS EMD is a national leader in medical and general population sheltering, incident management, and caring for individuals with disabilities during emergencies. The organization is a top emergency management partner for FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and numerous states across the nation. Most recently, BCFS EMD embedded in the City of Los Angeles’ emergency management department to assist in strengthening and ensuring its program integrated planning for people with disabilities. BCFS EMD is also developing FEMA’s national “Whole Community” Disaster Training Program.