When tragedy strikes, the friends and family members of victims are often left wondering what became of their loved ones. These unfortunate mysteries make challenging situations even more trying and can prevent people from moving on. In difficult times, committed and skilled individuals often come forward to do their part. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Dr. Stephen J. Gershberg decided to use his particular expertise to help make life a little easier for those left in the aftermath of catastrophe. He did so by joining DMORT, the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. In the following blog, we explain how Dr. Gershberg leverages his dental experience to help victims’ loved ones find closure and peace.
What is DMORT?
A Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team is a group of civilian specialists, including computer programmers, funeral directors, coroners, mental health professionals, and—you guessed it!—dentists that assist the United States government after catastrophe strikes. In times of need, DMORT members become temporary federal employees. These teams work to identify, process, and properly prepare the victims’ remains for their families and for an appropriate funeral. The government typically deploys DMORT units during large-scale crises, from major transportation accidents to natural disasters. The September 11, 2001 attacks were the first time a DMORT-like group was activated on a national scale.
Dr. Gershberg’s Role
Dr. Gershberg has been involved with DMORT, Region III (one of the ten national units divided by region—Region III is composed of members from PA, MD, DC, DE, VA, WV) as a forensic dentist since 2003. He is also on the VIC (Victim Identification Center) team, which helps recover dental and medical records that will aid in the identification of disaster victims. In these capacities, he works both administratively and in the field to help identify remains. Dr. Gershbergs uses his extensive understanding of dental recordkeeping and three decades of clinical experience to give back to those in need. To keep his skills up to date, Dr. Gershberg attends annual regional and national trainings (in addition to his extensive continuing education in restorative, cosmetic, and general dentistry).
As part of his DMORT service, Dr. Gershberg was deployed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This was a tough but incredibly valuable experience. In Dr. Gershberg’s own words: “It was incredibly rewarding to be able to be part of a team to help identify people so that loved ones could have a proper funeral, burial, and grieve. I will never forget the feeling of intense accomplishment and pride with each one of the positive identifications made.” Dr. Gershberg is happy that he’s been able to contribute to disaster relief with his distinctive talents.
About Your Bryn Mawr Forensic Dentist
Dr. Gershberg has spent the past thirty years providing outstanding care to our patients. To learn more about our practice or schedule a consultation, contact us today or give us a call at (610)527-6700.