My son and I often play a game we call “you could be the guy”. This game is about all the different kinds of jobs being done in the world. You could be the guy who washes the fronts of billboards, or you could be the guy who inventories different kinds of snails, or … This week the JCSO Citizen’s Academy visited the morgue and learned what a Medical Examiner and a Medical Examiner Investigator’s job consists of. Their’s is one of those jobs that exist but most of us know little about. You could be the guy.
The guy who is on call 24/7 365 days a year. The guy who always takes two cars on any family outing, because you may have to leave at any given time on short notice. The guy who has to tell some family that they have lost a loved one. The guy who does all he can to give respect to an accident victim by shielding his body from the press and other onlookers. The guy who has to perform an autopsy on a child who has been abused. The guy who believes in his job and does it for the sake of others so that bad guys can be prosecuted and good families can have closure.
In our tour of the morgue we learned how they do the job they do. How to tell the difference of a self-administered gunshot wound and one delivered by someone other than the victim. We learned about blood splatter and cast off. We learned what kind of cases are sent to the medical examiner and which ones are not.
The Jackson County morgue is located at the Oregon State Police office and serves all the county. The medical examiner investigators are sheriff’s deputies, and they serve all the agencies in the county. The District Medical Examiner is only available to Jackson County twice a week as he also serves several other counties. The local deputies do all the preliminary investigations and assist with autopsies performed by the ME.
The types of cases that must be investigated include deaths that are accidental, homicidal, suicidal, in-custody (meaning any ward of the court) and unattended (not under a physician or nurse practitioner’s care). In 2008 the JCSO Medical Examiners Investigators were notified of 760 deaths, of those deaths 186 were investigated and accepted into the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner. District Medical Examiner James Olson, M.D. performed 54 autopsies for Jackson County.
While we learned about many things in this visit to the morgue the one thing that really stands out is what a demanding job these people have and still remain somewhat out of the lime light. They do so on purpose, their’s is not a job many like to think about but a job that must be done. My hat is off to Detectives Pike and Arnold because I am not sure I could be the guy.
By by Kathy Sell
of the Independent