Northern Region Fatality Management

MAY 6, 2021

Zoom Meeting: 8:30 AM to Noon

The purpose of the Targeted Event Readiness Forum (TERF) is To provide an environment for exploring opportunities along the disaster response continuum. The TERFs are not a disaster preparedness exercise, but instead a facilitated discussion to foster information sharing and relationship development. The focus for this TERF is upon a) the Northern Region and b) Fatality Management.


  1. Identify and refine the roles and responsibilities of responding and supporting organizations.
  2. Identify the trigger points to execute fatality management planning and response efforts.
  3. Determine how situational awareness and coordination for responding and supporting organizations will occur.
  4. Determine how fatality surge will be managed (victim identification, family reunification, storage, transport, security, and disposition).
  5. Identify any cultural or faith-based considerations during a fatality management event.


COVID-19 continues to surge in Arizona, filling decedent storage at medical examiner offices and hospitals. Furthermore, all hospitals are at capacity. It’s a bright sunny afternoon in Northern Arizona and the tourist season is in full swing. Interstate 17 is very busy with travelers and trucks. From the Mogollon Rim to the Sedona exit, there is a 17 mile steep grade, with many warnings for trucks to slow down and a runaway truck ramp in case a truck is unable to stop. A heavily-loaded tractor trailer has begun having brake troubles, but the driver decides not to use the runaway ramp (using the ramp would result in fines and a hefty towing bill). The driver slows down in the valley at the bottom of the hill. As he rounds the final bend, he realizes that traffic has stopped ahead. In an effort to avoid an accident he quickly steers to the Sedona off ramp, only to find a line of stopped vehicles, including a tour bus and a 15 passenger van carrying tribal elders. The semi plows into the bus at greater than 65 miles per hour, killing 38 of the 40 passengers and the driver. The bus is pushed into the van, killing 8 of the 15 passengers. Of the remaining 7 passengers in the van, 4 are gravely injured. Other vehicles are also involved but result in only minor injuries.