Before a Disaster Occurs, Establish a Response Team
Considering the importance of being prepared before a disaster actually occurs, members of the David J. Sweet Forensic Odontology Group between 1992 and 1996 trained themselves in the many and varied aspects of forensic science. Through exposure to methods and protocols used by other experts to handle, evaluate and analyze forensic exhibits, the DJSFOG odontologists developed an excellent appreciation for standardization of procedures, consistency in methods and justification for conclusions.
From these beginnings, the core of the BC-FORT organization was formed. The core group of individuals set out to prepare themselves for any type of mass fatality incident. Local and regional courses were attended and charter members became team leaders as the group expanded. More allied dental personnel were encouraged to join the team as annual training exercises were conducted.
Currently the team comprises dentists, dental hygienists, certified dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, physicians and coroners from British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon Territory as well as international collaborators.
In natural or man-made disasters, many people may lose their lives at the time of the event or subsequently as a result of severe injuries that are sustained during the event. This is particularly true of aviation incidents where factors such as high impact velocities and the extreme heat from a post-incident conflagration produce injuries that are not survivable. Identification of the deceased in such situations is of paramount importance from legal, investigative and humanitarian points of view. Any delay between the occurrence and the identification of deceased victims prolongs the suffering of bereaved family members.
BC-FORT is the team of dental and associated personnel that are trained and prepared to respond to identify the victims of a mass fatality incident. This team comprises persons with a high level of knowledge and skill in various necessary areas of expertise. Through ongoing training and recruitment of additional personnel to expand both the scope and depth of the team's degree of readiness, BC-FORT is committed to be in a position to respond at the highest standard of excellence on behalf of any citizens in need.
Dr. David Sweet, Response Leader