Disaster Related Deaths and Infection: Truth, Myth, or In-Between: Health Considerations of Human Remains in the Disaster Setting [open pdf - 68KB]
"Death is an expectable part of disaster. In some disasters such as earthquakes in which history shows that deaths can be in the hundred's of thousands, management of the remains of the dead are a major concern. For disaster victims as well as professional first responders who will recover and take care of remains this aspect of a disaster is especially distressing. Learning to not look at the faces and hands of the dead, can decrease ones identification with the victims ('It could have been me. It could have been my spouse/child.') and protect to some extent from the distress. However the number of dead, their condition, child deaths and loss of ones own friends and relatives adds to the stress burden of exposure to death and the dead. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can be one outcomes of extensive exposure to grotesque death. Often there are also health concerns associated with the exposure to remains. Knowledge about the facts of risk and of best practices that help minimize difficulties on site, may help reduce the distress of those who are recovering remains, volunteers who may be disaster victims as well as professional first responders are at risk and need knowledge, training, education and leadership as well as compassion, concern, rest and respite."
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: http://cstsonline.org/