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Mass Casualty and Emergency Response: Do you know the Code? Melissa Roberson, DCJS Critical Incident Response Coordinator Mary Vail Ware, MSW Director,

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Presentation on theme: "Mass Casualty and Emergency Response: Do you know the Code? Melissa Roberson, DCJS Critical Incident Response Coordinator Mary Vail Ware, MSW Director,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Mass Casualty and Emergency Response: Do you know the Code? Melissa Roberson, DCJS Critical Incident Response Coordinator Mary Vail Ware, MSW Director, CICF

2 Context Since 2001, Virginia has been challenged with the Pentagon Attack, Appalachian School of Law Shooting, Sniper Attacks, Anthrax Attacks, Virginia Tech shootings, etc. Nationally, there have been 179 school shooting incidents in the 13 years between Columbine (4/99) and Sandy Hook (12/2012).

3 The Code…. The plan shall include a provision that the Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Virginia Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund shall be contacted immediately to deploy assistance in the event of an emergency as defined in the emergency response plan when there are victims as defined in § The Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund shall be the lead coordinating agencies for those individuals determined to be victims, and the plan shall also contain current contact information for both agencies

4 Why plan for a Family Assistance Center (FAC)? Family members of individuals at the event location will begin to flock to the scene Well meaning (and not so well meaning) individuals will go to scene Convergence of people can impact investigation, perhaps endanger others Need a place to verify who belongs, and to provide services and information Manage interaction between victims, responders, and press

5 When might you want to have an FAC? Small incidents or large—make it scalable Whenever more than one family group is impacted by an incident When press may be involved When those impacted might need additional services from multiple providers-create “one stop” assistance

6 Establishing a Family Assistance Center Location Press Security Check-In process Staff credentials EOC Spontaneous volunteers and donations Agencies Involved

7 Agencies Involved at Virginia Tech FAC Virginia Department of Social Services (ESF 6) Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services Virginia Department of Emergency Management Virginia CICF American Red Cross Mental Health Agencies Chaplains/Ministers Rep from Funeral Director’s Association Rep from Medical Examiner’s Office Massage Therapists Therapy Dogs University Staff Law Enforcement Victim/Witness Staff Medical/Rescue Squad

8 What does family assistance provide? For Families Information Consistency Way to manage expectations Place/people to get answers Safety (from public and media) Move through grief process Reduces stress/anxiety For Industry/Government “The right thing to do” Humanitarian/ethical Provide consistent message Manage expectations for public Public image – Source NTSB

9 What doesn’t family assistance provide? “Closure” – Step in the grief/recovery process – “Resiliency” All the answers – Factual information when available/allowable – Information on process when no factual information available Support for all needs Elimination of legal actions – Source NTSB

10 Family Assistance Family Member Concerns Short Term Where is my loved one? Where are their belongings? Who is in charge? Where will I get information? Can I visit the accident site? How did this happen? Provision of services – Where do I get…? Long term How/where will I get information? What happens next? How can I prevent this from happening again? Memorial and anniversaries Provision of services – Where do I get…? – Source NTSB

11 Best Practices Pre-designate team and required training for members Ensure that all on site are “credentialed” in some way, assign someone to this task Immediate response defines the event for victims & public Prepare for press—shield families Rely on experts in the field-victims taking care of victims is not a good model, crime or no Ensure that assistance efforts have clear leadership with decision making authority Plan consistent communication opportunities

12 Best Practices Avoid the term “reunification” Hold daily meetings of responders to debrief and find solutions Policy around social media communication Immediately prepare for influx and money and donations—prepare a donation message Do not resist the urge to do what’s “right” If you don’t know something or have something—ask! VOAD is a great resource.

13 Best Practices If crime victims do not have their needs met in the immediate aftermath of the event, they will seek to have them met in other ways Individuals who are not experienced with victims of crime should not provide direct service Families should have a safe place to gather to receive services and information If possible, victims should be paired with a trained and experienced advocate in order to meet requirements of Virginia Code § Responses can be scalable, think of resources in the community that might help with a FAC, or just a gathering room.

14 Care for the Caregivers Plan and exercise aftermath of worst case scenario First responders cannot provide ongoing service without relief Working in teams is critical Debriefing and support services are not a luxury, they are a necessity “Taking care of our own” is never a good plan, wounded serving wounded is not constructive for either party Take it easy on yourself and colleagues

15 Fund Facts Created by 1977 Virginia General Assembly Housed in the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission Pays out-of-pocket expenses for innocent victims of violent crimes Allowable expenses include: funeral costs, out of pocket medical bills, transportation, lost wages, moving expenses, etc. Funded by court fees, restitution, and VOCA

16 CICF Role in Mass Casualty Crime Incidents Respond to Family Assistance Center Provide financial assistance to victims and families for medical bills, funeral expenses, etc. Coordinate with other funding agencies to ensure resources are maximized Utilize local victim witness assistance programs to work with families Provide technical assistance and support to institutional victim

17 DCJS – Victims Services Provides funding to support 114 victim/witness programs throughout Virginia Coordinates and deploys Virginia’s Victim Assistance Team, consisting of 165 individuals that have received basic training of which 23 have also received advanced training from NOVA, to assist localities after mass casualty criminal incidents training, Conducts crisis response team training and maintains database of credentialed responders Report a Campus or Local Emergency (per Code Sections :9 and ) Call or ; or

18 DCJS Role in Mass Casualty Incidents Coordinate victim advocate response Respond to Family Assistance Center (ESF6) Ensure victims and family members are aware of the FAC and services available to them Assign victim advocates to assist victims/family members

19 Local Victim/Witness Programs What are they? Where are they located? Routine services provided by programs

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21 Routine Services Provided by Local Victim/Witness Programs Case Status Restitution Protection Dispositions Compensation Assistance Emergency Assistance Victim Impact Statements Crisis Intervention Intercession CJS Explanation Short Term Counseling Courtroom Tours Accompaniment to CJ Meetings and Court Hearings

22 Victim Advocates Role in a Mass Tragedy Types of services provided Local advocates and statewide support Comp Staff and Victim Advocates working together “Companioning” What worked well in past events

23 Local Victim Advocates Can quickly access community resources Interface with local agencies Cut through “red tape” Expedite delivery of services to victims Medical Care and HIPPA

24 Incorporating Victim Advocates in Crisis Plans Establish relationships Understand each others roles Training and Exercises Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan – Family Assistance Center Policy

25 Final Thoughts Identify your non-traditional resources (victim advocates, child day care centers, restaurants) Think about possible gathering places Plan ahead, make a scalable FAC part of your response to any disaster Include the creation of an FAC in your exercises Determine how you might plan to offer continuing support to both the community and responders after the advent of a “worst-case-scenario”

26 Contact Information Mary Vail Ware Director Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund P. O. Box 26927, Richmond, VA or Melissa Roberson Critical Incident Response Coordinator Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services 1100 Bank Street, Richmond, VA or


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