Bailey named officer of the year

We're highly restricted as to what we can talk about, partially out of respect for the dead, Bailey said.

The United States is split into 10 FEMA regions. Bailey is a Region II volunteer, which covers New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico.

We aren't just limited to responding to those areas, though, he said, noting that he's been sent to Mississippi and Rhode Island for DMORT duties.

When news coverage of a disaster ends, that doesn't mean the work on the scene is over.

It's not uncommon for identification at a commercial airline crash to go on for six months, Bailey said. Volunteers aren't deployed for all that time; most of us have responsibilities at home, so we'll go for 21 days, then come home. After that, we can be redeployed.

Bailey said the process of finding out about a mass fatality incident is the same for DMORT volunteers as it is for the rest of the country.

We find out the same way you do; we see it on TV. That's our advisory. That's followed by getting the call that you're on standby - the 'alert' - and then we're activated, he said. Our bags are packed all the time.

Bailey attended a plane crash disaster course in 1995, and there he was exposed to DMORT.

It hit home what they do, he said. He joined that year.

Bailey functions as an administrator when deployed, as well as taking care of evidentiary issues, photography and death investigation.

I'm kind of like a utility infielder, he said.

Bailey said it can be difficult to maintain one's mental health under the circumstances DMORT volunteers face, but he's taken advantage of any and all mental health training available, which helps fortitude in the face of the unthinkable.

I've always taken mental health courses, he said. And we're encouraged to call home every day [while on site] and talk with our families.

Receiving the award is a bit strange, Bailey said.

It's awkward for me to accept it. We in DMORT are such a team and a family. It is indeed an honor, but there are no 'me's' or 'I's' in DMORT, he said.

I'm going to accept the award on behalf of the people around me at work at the DMORT team. And most importantly, for my family. Without family support, you have nothing.

Bailey will receive his award at the New York State American Legion Convention July 20 in Rochester.

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