Mass Fatality Drill Deploys DC's First Mobile Morgue Facility

WASHINGTON — A mass fatality symposium and exercise this week in D.C. involved the deployment of the city’s field disaster morgue for the first time.

“This is a deployable, military-grade tent structure that’s been purposed to recreate our morgue operations,” D.C. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Roger Mitchell, Jr. told WTOP during a walk-through Thursday of the facility.

The mobile morgue equipment used to identify victims and causes of death includes dental and full-body X-ray machines.

With a capacity of holding 200 decedents, the mobile morgue can be used in mass casualty events or in chemical or biological incidents in which victims would need to be isolated.

Mitchell said the D.C. area borrowed the concept from other areas that have deployed the facilities, such as New York and New Jersey.

The mass fatality exercise participants came from 45 agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Amtrak, Department of Defense and local and regional partners.

The exercise included a two-day symposium with lectures from international visitors who worked the November 2015 France terror attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed and the Nice truck attack this summer that killed 86 people. The event also hosted the chief coroner who led the response to the December 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California where 14 people were killed.

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