Categorized | National News

BFDA in Dispute over Dead Dorian Victims

The Bahamas Funeral Directors Association (BFDA) yesterday expressed concerns surrounding the handling of dead bodies in Abaco and Grand Bahama following Hurricane Dorian.

According to BFDA President Kirsh Ferguson, the association has not been given an official role in the recovery of the dead.   

“As the official representative, of the funeral service industry, we have over the years, we have worked hand and hand with the Ministry of Health in bringing about the legislation necessary to govern this industry,” he said.

“Secondly, because of the national tragedy we are now facing, we thought it would be wise to be at the forefront to assist in matters pertaining to the dead. This is not an effort to have any financial gain whatsoever. We are our brothers’ keepers and we want to help.”

Mr. Ferguson added that the association followed protocol by going to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and following the process.

This process includes registering the association and sending a listing of member firms. 

However, he said, the BFDA has yet to hear from NEMA. 

Mr. Ferguson added that a few of the association’s members have been recruited by the government, but the association’s involvement in the aftermath of the storm can improve.

BFDA Secretary Yolanda Curtis said, “We went to NEMA last week Thursday. It was only after receiving information on Wednesday that morticians were already on the ground in Abaco. 

“So, of course we have several concerns because we were not contacted at all. The ministry is well aware of our association and they know who our members are and who is on our executive board.”

She maintained that the association has been left in the dark after attempting to converse with NEMA on multiple occasions, forcing her to attend a volunteer meeting. 

“Captain Stephen Russell and his other associates were there and I said to them that we’ve heard that morticians are there and we haven’t been contacted. We’re very concerned. We don’t know what the lay of the land is. We don’t know what’s happening,” she said. 

“Are these persons being properly identified? Are their photographs being taken? Are they tagged? At this point, it’s some 10-11 days later. So, this is an advanced state of decomposition. 

“Dental? DNA? Do they have a tattoo or some identifying mark? What’s being done?”

However, Mr. Ferguson said he reached out to the BFDA member involved with recovery efforts, but was met with opposition. 

What it all boils down to, he said, is there is no plan in place neither from NEMA or the Ministry of Health. 

Moving forward, it is the organization’s intent to have a contingency plan in place to assist the government in whatever disaster may occur. 

Mr. Ferguson and Ms. Curtis were guests on Love 97’s Issues of the Day talk show. 

Calls were made to Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands.  However, he was unavailable for comment up to press time. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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