Creating and Operating a Family Assistance Center - A Toolkit for Public Health


Define Your Purpose and Scope

When you begin the planning process with your team, it is helpful to start by defining the purpose and scope of your FAC within the overall mass-casualty or mass-fatality incident response. Questions to consider are:

  • What are the goals of the FAC?
  • What scenarios warrant a FAC? What are the triggers for activation?
  • Who do we intend to serve in a FAC?
  • What is our “vision of success”?

In King County, WA, PHSKC will activate a FAC in a variety of mass-casualty or mass-fatality scenarios to:

  • Provide a private and secure place for families to gather, receive information about the response and recovery, and grieve.
  • Protect families from the media and curiosity seekers.
  • Facilitate information sharing with hospitals to support family reunification with the injured.
  • Address family informational, psychological, spiritual, medical, and logistical needs.
  • Centralize and coordinate missing person inquiries.
  • Collect antemortem information on the missing or known deceased.
  • Facilitate information exchange between the Medical Examiner/Coroner’s (ME/C) Office and families.
  • Provide death notifications and facilitate the processing of death certificates and the release of human remains for final disposition, as needed.