Mille Lacs County Times

Posted: 12/27/06

County seeking death investigator

By Dawn Slade
Mille Lacs County Times

It's a unique help wanted ad you don't see everyday. The Mille Lacs County Medical Examiner's Office is seeking a death investigator.

Dr. Butch Huston, assistant medical examiner and chief of operations for Midwest Forensic Pathology in Coon Rapids, said there are four or five investigators who cover Mille Lacs County.

But, none live in the county.

The closest death investigators live in Kanabec and Isanti counties and that means the response time is longer, which can hamper investigations.

Thus the need for an investigator from Mille Lacs County.

"It just works to have people who live in the county," Huston said.

The medical examiner's office sends a death investigator to the scene of any death outside of a health care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home.

A death investigator typically responds to the scene after receiving a call from the police or sheriff's office. The investigator examines the body and the area surrounding the body, such as checking what medications are in the home, and securing those items that may pertain to the death.

That person also makes the preliminary assessment as to whether or not an autopsy is needed.

"It's a small percentage of cases that end up in autopsy," Huston said.

An autopsy is performed in non-natural death cases.

So how do you become a death investigator?

Huston said the part-time position, which is an on-call 24/7 position, doesn't necessarily require someone to be in medicine or law enforcement.

Extensive training courses will be provided. However experience in the medical field, such as nursing or EMT are beneficial as is law enforcement or criminal justice.

The medical examiner's office is hoping to find someone with a degree in physical or social sciences - someone with a basic knowledge of human anatomy.

More importantly, they're looking for someone who is professional, mature and compassionate.

"These are some difficult situations and you're dealing with a lot of emotions with family," Huston said.

To learn more about the position, contact the medical examiner's office at 763-236-9050.

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Mille Lacs County Times
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