In 1989, a new Medical Examiner facility was built utilizing a design
concept of a centralized morgue, separating it from other activities
of the facility. The work area was developed to promote an easy flow
of activity. Instead of a single exam room or a fixed exam table, the
area was built utilizing four fixed, wall-mounted stations to which
bodies could be transported via portable gurneys. The gurneys are
designed to serve as the body transportation table, holding tray and
exam table. Using this type of equipment reduces unnecessary movement
of the body, thus, diminishing the possibility of employee injury.
Additionally, the morgue contains separate morgue suites to accomodate
major and biohazardous cases.
All bodies brought to the morgue are received in an area designed to maintain the utmost privacy during transfer. Individual bodies are entered into the office computer system, assigned a unique case number and fitted with identification tags bearing the case number and decedent's name. Two refrigeration units, capable of holding 50 bodies, are designated to hold incoming and completed cases separately as a safeguard to prevent a body from being released prior to examination. Once an examination is complete, the body is released to the family's designated funeral home.
The autopsy examination is accomplished through the teamwork of the Forensic Pathologist and a team of Autopsy Technicians (dierners). A diener assists the pathologist with photography, radiographic exams, measurements, procurement of biological samples, evidence packaging and documentation, and release of examined bodies to funeral homes, among other responsibilities. Dieners are tasked also with keeping the morgue areas clean and stocked with adequate supplies.
In order to preserve evidentiary integrity, each piece of evidence collected by or submitted to the Medical Examiner’s Office for processing is coupled with a detailed chain-of-custody log. To ensure the chain-of-custody is maintained correctly, and that all evidence is handled, cared for and stored properly, forensic technicians with expertise in evidentiary preservation are utilized.
Traci Wilson has been a Forensic Autopsy Technician at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office since November 1995. She was employed as a Forensic Pathologist Assistant in Bossier City, LA before she made her home in Fort Worth, TX. She attended Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, LA (ULM), where she majored in Business Administration and Business Law.
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