Jessamine County Coroner

The Coroner's Call

Whenever there is a suspected death, EMS and law enforcement are first notified by central dispatch, which is the communication center for the county.  When a death is confirmed by EMS, central dispatch is again contacted and asked to notify the coroner that a code 500 has occurred.  Once notified by dispatch, the coroner or deputy initiates a “Coroner’s Investigation Form”, noting the time the call was received and preliminary information regarding the circumstances.  Since in most cases the body of the deceased cannot be moved or repositioned until the coroner arrives, it is imperative to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible.  Upon arriving at the scene, the coroner begins a methodical investigation to help them answer the cause and manner of death.  A “Provisional Report of Death” form is started at this time, and the time the decedent was pronounced is recorded.  The coroner’s investigation will encompass numerous facets, including color (lividity), temperature (algor) and rigidity (rigor) of the body.  In addition, the body will be examined for evidence of trauma and other characteristics that may help in the investigation.  After the body is examined and photographed, the scene is examined for additional evidence.  Usually a number of people are interviewed including witnesses, companions and family members.  Whenever there is a death investigation, it is handled as a team, with members of law enforcement participating equally with the coroner.  Once positive identification is made, the next of kin is notified of the death of their loved one.  When the on-site investigation is complete, the body is removed either to the coroner’s facility or a mortuary service, depending on the circumstances.  If the cause of death is questionable, the coroner may order an autopsy to be performed by the state medical examiner in Frankfort.  Usually, the coroner and medical examiner will have a conference to determine if an autopsy is needed.  The family of the decedent does not have to give permission in order for the autopsy to be done.  If it is decided to go with the autopsy, the coroner fills out a “Request for Autopsy” and sends it along with the body to Frankfort.  Whenever an autopsy is ordered, the coroner is requested to attend the autopsy if possible, in order to provide any additional information during the examination.  Sometimes an autopsy may not be necessary, but a toxicology screen may be ordered to determine the presence of drugs and/or alcohol in the body.  If this is done, the specimens are usually obtained at the coroner’s facility.  Upon receiving the remains, the funeral service provider will initiate a death certificate and forward it to the coroner for completion.  Once all test results are received, the coroner will complete the death certificate and return it to the funeral provider who will forward it to the “Office of Vital Statistics” in Frankfort. Shortly after, the next of kin will receive the certified death certificate stating the cause and manner of death.  I make myself available to discuss with the loved ones, the details of the outcome of the investigation.     

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