Jessamine County Coroner

Responding to a Call

Generally speaking, a call for the coroner  is initiated  by emergency  medical personnel,  who have determined   medically that the patient  is deceased.  The EMS personnel  notify  the Jessamine County Dispatch center that  a coroner  is needed at the scene, and Dispatch in turn  notifies  the coroner  of a death scene call.  A death scene can be anywhere  an individual  may be found  unresponsive,  including the home, at work,  at the hospital or in a vehicular  or other  type of accident.  The coroner's  role is to determine  three vital facts: the manner  (natural,  accidental,  homicide,  suicide), cause and time  of death according to evidence and information   that  may be gathered  at the scene; as well as by interviews  with law enforcement,   EMS, family,  friends or witnesses.  This information   is vital in determining  as accurately  as possible, those facts.  The manner and cause of death are extremely  important,   especially if other  than natural.   In the event that  a crime has been committed,   or even if there  is just suspicion of a crime, preservation  of a pristine,  undisturbed  scene is of the highest priority.   A contaminated   scene, where evidence may be inadvertently   disturbed,  removed  or destroyed,  can actually  hamper or impair the  investigation  of the case. Obviously, the judicial  consequences of such a disturbed  scene could be catastrophic  regarding a subsequent  criminal  case. The need to arrive on scene as expeditiously  as reasonably possible in this scenario is therefore   not only justified,  but should be expected as the norm for  the best possible investigative  outcome.   In such a situation,  where  we do not know all the particulars  about the scene and how the death occurred,  we may, according to state law (HB 34), elect to use emergency  lights and sirens if there  is the least chance that  we may encounter  a crime scene.

In the event of a fatal vehicular  accident,  arriving  on the scene unimpeded  and timely  may sometimes prove extremely  difficult  due to blocked traffic.   It should be obvious that  a thorough  investigation  must be undertaken  for all loss of life accidents, and talking with  law enforcement,   emergency  medical personnel,  those involved  in the accident and witnesses,   is again of paramount  importance.  Kentucky law states that  removal of the vehicles or any deceased human being is not permitted   until a coroner arrives  on scene and conducts a preliminary  investigation.  While  EMS, fire and law enforcement   are busy caring for the injured  and working  the scene; clearing and removing  the vehicles as soon as possible in order to restore traffic  flow  must be considered  as well.  For these reasons, the coroner  may, according to state law (HB 34), elect to use emergency  lights and sirens in order to negotiate  heavily congested or blocked traffic  while traveling  to the scene.

I would  like to point out that  in any situation  in which the coroner  or deputy  coroner  deems the use of such emergency  equipment  necessary or preferable,  all traffic  laws are conformed  to, and every

courtesy  is extended  to civilian traffic  and pedestrians.

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