Sound clip: police at Erebus disaster

Wayne Mowat interviews Superintendent Jim Morgan, 11 March 1988, about the police experience on Erebus.


Interviewer: What was your part in the task force after the Mt Erebus disaster? Can police training ever prepare anyone for a disaster of the proportions of Erebus?

Jim Morgan: It can prepare the structure and pre-plan and provide contingency plans, but it is very difficult to prepare people mentally for the impact of that sort of disaster. The professionals that assisted us at the mortuary, that is the pathologists, the dentists, the morticians, the embalmers who are used to dealing with death in tragic situations acknowledge that even they found it extremely difficult to deal with such a – a tragedy of such magnitude. So it was very difficult for our young police officers who may have handled the occasional sudden death to be suddenly confronted with 280 sudden deaths all at once. The young married people who were able to go home at the end of their shift and talk about other things, they didn't talk about the horrors of the mortuary, managed to cope quite well, but the young single people who returned to their flats which were largely unoccupied suffered some quite bad psychological trauma.

Interviewer: How did it affect you?

Jim Morgan: It affected me the first two or three weeks – interrupted sleeping patterns, eating habits changed, loss of appetite and bad dreams – the dreams particularly.

Community contributions

1 comment has been posted about Sound clip: police at Erebus disaster

What do you know?

Brian Vorderstrasse

Posted: 29 Nov 2022

Jim Morgan was never at the crash site! What he says is true but he never experienced it!