Coroner Scene Investigation

A Brief History of the Coroner Scene Investigation Program

In the spring of 2005, the Jefferson County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), in cooperation with the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners, the Health Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Ambulance Service began to discuss possible solutions to the problems associated with the limited availability of a coroner to investigate death scenes in the rural communities. The goal of the meetings was to determine how this essential service could be performed in a manner that was timely and efficient.

Exploration of Other Coroner Programs

Research on the issue found uncovered that there are a number of communities struggling to meet the recognized and ever-growing need for Coroner Services. Douglas County, KS addressed this need by utilizing EMS personnel. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical (LDCF&M) sent a number of personnel to be trained in responding to and investigating death scenes. This program was further explored to see if it was a model that could be adapted to work in Jefferson County. With help from LDCF&M, Dr. Joel Hutchins and the Shawnee County Coroner’s Office, it was determined that the program model used effectively in Douglas County could be tailored to meet the needs of Jefferson County.

Training for the New Program

In 2007, the Jefferson County Coroner Scene Investigation Program began to take shape. Seven personnel from Jefferson County Ambulance Service were sent to St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO to participate in the Medicolegal Death Investigation Training Course. Following the completion of the certification course, the personnel also spent time with the Shawnee County Coroner’s Office and Medical Examiners to learn the local practices surrounding Death Scene Investigation. Written guidelines for the investigators were then compiled and adopted and equipment was purchased.

Launch of the CSI Program

On February 1, 2008, the Jefferson County Coroner Scene Investigation Program was officially launched. The certified EMS personnel now are capable of functioning as Death Investigators for all of Jefferson County. Since then, the Program has been shown to have dramatically reduced the response time, scene time and investigation time of death scenes within the County. In addition, it has proven to reduce the amount of money that the County spends on the annual cost of providing coroner services.