Somebody has to do what nobody wants to do. In the event of disasters, large amounts of dead bodies are often found. How do you really deal with large amounts of corpses and what are the risks?
In case of a disaster, all bodies must be taken care of. In everyday life, the corpse is not a common occurrence, when everything that happens after death is taken care of inside the thick walls of healthcare and mortuaries.
When something terrible happens that results in large amounts of dead bodies, the discrete handling of corpses ending. Instead, you may decide whether deceased people should get a worthy final rest and prevent a spread of infection.
Search for dead bodies
Preparation is everything you and your team members will get to see horrific things. People who die in a disaster make it rarely quiet and orderly.
The initial equipment needed for the rough job is breathing masks (mouth protection), latex gloves and body bags. Unless special body bags are available, use garbage bags.
There should also be a camera in the group. It is for documenting events that facilitate identification. A pen should also be available as well as boxes for collecting personal belongings.
While the group brings together bodies, people should be appointed to dig graves. Digging tombs takes time and should, therefore, begin as soon as the others starting to collect the corpse. The graves do not need to be deep as the hope is that the bodies will eventually be buried officially when the situation is cleared.
Split the group if needed
When searching for an area after dead bodies, seduction may differ depending on the complexity of the site. An earthquake often creates larger areas of eroded buildings and these take time to investigate.
Knowing in advance that many people are dead, you can divide the search and rescue effort into two additional groups, one looking for corpses while the other manages the transport.
Finding a corpse
When you find a corpse, put it immediately in a body bag. Do not try to look for any missing parts of the body. It takes too much of your valuable time and it will be too mental for most people.
Identify dead people
Identification can be the most important part of a disaster. Especially for the families of victims. Most likely, authorities will soon take over the work, but by your action, you shorten the time significantly for the body to be buried or stored in the cold storage room. These are the tasks you should collect for each body:
Register all body parts with a serial number, such as today’s date and a unique ID. It may look like this: 1610-001. All body parts, even those who appear to belong to the same person, must have a unique identification number.
The label on the object will summarize the circumstances at the time of the event. In addition to a unique ID, you must also enter time, place, etc. Make sure that the label remains.
To photograph the dead body in order to facilitate identification should be carried out as follows: A full body image, facial image, special features (tattoos, scars, etc.) as well as possible belongings.
Focus on personal belongings like jewelry, watches, wallets etc. Put them in an envelope or box carefully with an ID number. These objects can be critical when attempting to identify a badly bruised body.
Storage and funeral
12 hours it takes for a body to begin the decay process. It is obviously dependent on climate, but within two days, the identification of the face becomes difficult. Gases have been created in the body and these spread a very disgusting smell unless the body is stored cold.
Cold in emergency situations is rare, as even power supply may have been affected. Hence the best solution is to bury the body in the ground. The temperature is lower in the ground.
In order not to risk poisoning survivors, the burial site must be at least 180-200 meters from drinking water. Do not attempt to dig deeper if water begins to drain into the pit.
How to dig a grave?
A grave must be at least 1.5 meters deep. Between the bodies, it should be 30-40 cm. Lay rocks or rocks on top of the graves so wild animals cannot dig up the bodies. Mark the tombs individually and throughout the site.
Risk of infection from dead bodies?
Dead people raise questions. Do they carry any disease that infects? Did they die solely of damage from external influences?
A dead person does not infect more than one living. As in living humans, there is a small risk of tuberculosis, hepatitis A / B, HIV and diarrhea diseases.
The fact is that the longer the body lies, the longer it reduces the risk of infection. Infectious diseases rarely survive more than two days in a dead body. The exception is HIV, which can last up to six weeks.
In case of infection, contact with blood, fluid or other body fluids/parts is usually required.
Dead bodies are categorized in three ways
The US Health Department categorizes dead bodies in three categories to facilitate handling. The different categories have different guidelines for protection (in parentheses).
- Persons who died of shock or injury (gloves, eye protection, face mask).
- Individuals carrying the intermediate diseases as HIV, hepatitis C, SARS, avian flu, MERS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (addition category 1, water-resistant plastic gloves and surgeon’s mask).
- Persons with severe infectious diseases such as anthrax, rabies, and pest (In addition to category 1 & 2, double pair of gloves as well as shoe protection).
Never eat or drink in connection with dead bodies. Do not touch your mouth or eyes. Make sure your own personal injury is well bandaged.
Death in numbers
- 56 million people die every year.
- 2.5 million people of these die in the United States.
- 9 percent die of injuries.
- 394 natural disasters occur on average each year.
- 107,000 people die each year in natural disasters.
- 53 people die in floods.