Butler County buying mass fatality trailer

Published 12:34 pm Monday, October 14, 2013

The Butler County Commission on Monday approved the purchase of a piece of equipment it hopes to never use.

The commission voted unanimously to use a grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health to purchase a mass fatality trailer.

“We hope to never have an event or a disaster that requires we use it, but we would have it in the event that we needed to store bodies for a period of time until the necessary arrangements could be made,” Commission Chairman Frank Hickman said.

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According to Shirley Sandy, Butler County Emergency Management Agency director, the trailer will be available for incidents such as tornados, floods, or any other incident that results in a large number of deaths.

“Depending on how we have it built, it will be able to hold 22-27 bodies,” Sandy said.

Commissioner Jesse McWilliams said that while the idea of a mass fatality trailer is unsettling, it is wise to be prepared for such an event citing an influenza outbreak in 1918 that resulted in 25,000 reported cases.

Officials with the health department have estimated that a modern pandemic in Alabama could kill as many as 28,000 people.

“We don’t think a lot about (mass fatalities), but in if we were to have another pandemic flu it could happen,” he said. “It’s not something we want to think about, but it’s good to be prepared.”

The grant will cover the cost of the trailer, which is expected to be $50,225.