Persons Directly Affected (PDA®) and Personal Effects (PE) are industry-wide terms that describe those directly affected by an incident and their personal belongings. We refer to these terms almost daily lately as our Bracknell warehouse is filled to the rafters with personal effects.
These professional terms are something much more meaningful.
They refer to a person who once lived: had a heart, mind and soul. These items represent that person and tell a story about how they lived their life. A wedding band can display the PDA loved someone, a CD found tells what kind of music they listened to, a business card will tell you what the PDA did for a living.
No one knows if an article of clothing will mean something to someone, we don’t know if a recovered watch is a family heirloom. We don’t know if a locket was given as a special birthday present or if those clothes were bought specifically for the event that ended tragically. We might look at an item that is badly damaged and think it insignificant. To a mother, father, spouse, or any other family member, however, that item survived a horrific incident and was with their loved one when life was lost.
When we are processing these items, we do not know the significance that they possess, but we do know that when we present these items back to the family, we just gave them back a little bit of their loved one. For years to come, they will look at those items and reflect on the life that was lived and cherish the memories of their loved one.
The importance of processing PE is that we treat these items with as much dignity and respect as we treat the human remains.
“I know from personal experience what a difference it would have made to have my loved one’s personal items given back to me in a dignified manner rather than just strewn about in a paper bag. I say it over and over but the work we do is exceptional and processing something that might seem insignificant to us will mean the world to someone else.” – Kathy Ricker, Team Member Manager