Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology in Disaster Response
Forensic anthropology has continued to demonstrate its usefulness to the field of disaster response since the publication of T. Dale Stewart’s Personal Identification in Mass Disasters (1970). Today, the increasing numbers of specialists in this area are applying their knowledge, skills, and research abilities to all aspects of disaster victim recovery and identification, personal effects management, and family assistance (Sledzik 2009).
Victims of mass disasters are often difficult to identify due to extensive trauma, fire, and other modifying forces associated with these types of incidents. Depending on the scale of the disaster, human remains may also be in advanced stages of decomposition by the time responders can extricate them from the scene, thus adding to the overall suite of identification challenges. In these circumstances, bereaved family members cannot be expected to provide reliable visual identifications of remains; instead, appropriate scientific practices...
The author is an employee of the National Transportation Safety Board. The views expressed are the personal views of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Transportation Safety Board or the United States Government.
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