consciousness@work 13 – July 20, 2022 Reception Centers: Meeting Friends, Relatives and All Survivors During Critical Times – Part Two
Can't read or see images?  View this email in a browser

Reception Centers: Meeting Friends, Relatives, and All Survivors During Critical Times – Part Two

Written by: Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.

July 20, 2022

   At the Foundation, we believe that consciousness involves putting people first, especially following a traumatic loss in the workplace. Establishing reception centers and a Family Assistance Center (FAC) is at the heart of putting people first. Since the protocol which established the centers began in 1996, feedback from family members supports the essential nature of these centers in their healing process.

     Jeff Morgan, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Family Assistance Education Research Foundation, hosted the first FAERF Institute's Summer Webinar Series on reception centers. Part One of this series, published July 6, summarized information about the Friends & Relatives Reception Centers, Survivor Reception, and Reunification Centers. This article reviews information about the Family Assistance Center, including the takeaways Jeff provided at the end of the session. 


Topics of Discussion on Family Assistance Centers (FAC)

How quickly should a FAC be established?

Where should the FAC be located?

Should the FAC be fully set up before receiving family members?

How long should the FAC be open?

(Note: The Centers that are set up to assist families in similar situations in the United Kingdom are referred to as the Humanitarian Assistance Center or the HAC).


How quickly should a FAC be established?

    Webinar participants were asked to vote at the following times; within 3 hours, within 72 hours, within 24 hours, and finally within the first week. While not everyone saw the time required the same, most agreed that the Center should be established within 24 hours. Jeff explained that best practice over the years has shown that within 24 hours is ideal where at all possible.

What is the purpose of the FAC?

    A FAC is a safe, comfortable environment for families to gather while they await further information about their loved ones. A facility beyond the initial Friends & Relatives Reception Center (FRRC) is required. Most corporations will do all possible to arrange a potential hotel, church or similar facility in advance of an emergency. However, because this is not always possible, companies can usually find a suitable location near where the traumatic event occurred.

Where should a FAC be located?

    The FAC should not be located right at the site of the trauma, as views of the scene on a non-stop basis can re-traumatize family members and survivors. Making a site visit under the guidance of local officials is regarded as extremely helpful to families who choose to go on an organized visit—but this is very different from being immersed in a tragic scene where one's loved one met great harm and, in some cases, even death.

    The location of the FAC must be adequate for the multiple agency and service providers to have sufficient space to organize and meet with the families and all who may need what they have to offer. This would also include adequate space for the company leadership team and all employees with roles to play as the tragedy unfolds. Lastly, the FAC must have sufficient meeting space for the multiple local, state, and federal groups whose contribution to the families will be enormous in helping them understand what has happened and the next steps in the process.

Should the FAC be fully set up before receiving family members?

    When Jeff posed this question, their opinions were very different. Some answered yes, others said no, and many felt it depended on circumstances. Jeff explained that opening the FAC as soon as possible, even if the FFRC is also open, is a good idea for numerous reasons. Following is a summary of why at the Foundation, we believe in opening the FAC as soon as possible.

    Moving families into a longer-term, more comfortable location where they can congregate with other family members is the first step in moving beyond the trauma. Remaining at an airport, rail station, cruise line terminal, or temporary room near where the trauma occurred is an unnecessary reminder of the horror of the event. Interviews with family members show that meeting other families and forming relationships as soon as possible helps point them in a direction away from the tragedy.

    Moving to a hotel or larger facility provides more space for serving food and beverage choices, sleeping rooms for much-needed rest, and other conveniences. Comfort required for a longer period is not possible in the FFRC, Survivor Reception, or Reunification Centers, which are intended to be temporary.

    One point for all Centers is protecting the families and all survivors from the press. When the FAC is established, and security is in place, survivors are grateful for the safe haven where they know they will find peace and solace.


How long should the FAC remain open?

    Like much of emergency management, particularly regarding survivors, the answer to this question is "it depends." It is true, however, that since the FAC came about after the Aviation Family Assistance Disaster Act of 1996, the average length of time for the FAC to remain open has been from one to two weeks. Often, the needs that drew families to the FAC can be met very quickly—thus, the Center is no longer needed. The shorter period happens when families are reunited with their loved ones, and plans are made for returning home or establishing longer-term care if hospitalization is required.

    Suppose the loved one has died in the tragedy. In that case, once they are recovered, the company and officials work to assist the family in getting them home or carrying out their preferred final rituals following a family member’s death. However, in many cases, the remains of those who died may not be easy to locate or identify. In this case, the officials in charge will often close the FAC, allowing families to go home and await the identification of their loved ones.

    Several examples illustrate this point. TWA 800 (1996), the first US air disaster where a FAC was established, provides an example. After three weeks, when nearly all of the deceased had been identified, and the recovery efforts yielded no additional remains, the families were sent home, and FAC closed. Fortunately, within one year, the remains of the missing were found and identified—and returned to their families.

    Unfortunately, tragedies like 9/11 and the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion provide examples where the remains of the missing are never identified. In both cases, the authorities determined when to let families return home and close the centers. The 11 missing men from the rig explosion were never located and were presumed to be dead. Many of the missing from 9/11,  to this day, remain unidentified. They are presumed dead.


I will always regret not traveling to the site of the accident where my son died. I was torn between staying home with my daughter or going to the city where the crash occurred. Later, I attended a support group for the better part of 2 years. Being with many other survivors was crucial to my healing. If I had gone to the site and met families sooner at the hotel where they all stayed, my recovery could have started sooner.

-Mother of a young man who died in ValuJet 592, May 11, 1996


    We believe this mother's quote speaks volumes about the power of bringing families together as soon as possible to help them begin their healing journey—and the FAC certainly facilitates that.

Below is the take-way chart that Jeff provided the webinar participants. 


From the Foundation

Information about the Summer Webinar Series can be found on our website!


© 2022 Higher Resources, Inc./Aviem International, Inc.

Not interested? Unsubscribe | Update profile
Aviem International, Inc. | 555 North Point Center East Suite 400 Alpharetta, Georgia 30022