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  • Leaving DOA MVA victims in car.

    A question for everybody out there. Our police want us to leave dead,trapped, MVA victims in the car until they give us the ok to remove them. This can range from 1 to a couple hours. We are volunteer, and recently we responded at 11PM or so. ALS pronounced the victim and PD told us they would let us know when to get the guy out. We all go home, and have to go back out at 12:30 to do the victim removal. Last weekend the same deal at 3AM. So we wait around for 90 minutes for the fatal investigator to arrive from the next county. Of course we are wasting our time and have 18 guys and 3 rigs sitting around in the middle of the night. I think it is a bunch of BS. I know our state laws state we are in charge at an accident scene, but if the guy is dead, maybe it is a police matter? Another thing I don't like. I don't like to leave a body in a vehicle (even if covered up) any longer than neccessary. I would hate to have the victims family or friends drive by knowing we just left the body there to remove later. I would like to extricate and bag the body, and let the PD stay there all day if that is their thing. Does anybody else have these problems?
    By the way this policy only seemed to start a year ago or so. Thanks

  • #2
    Been that way in our state since the begining of time. The only way a DOA can be moved is if they need to be in order to remove a live vitcim.

    The county coroner has to give the ok to move a DOA. In some counties the local fire depts have worked out details with the county coroner where the scene is documented and polaroids taken prior to removal. The FD can then extricate the DOA.

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    • #3
      We have the same problem. After one time where they 'forgot' to call the ID officers and we sat on the Interstate for 4 hours we developed a slightly better system.

      As soon as the DOA is declared they call for the ID team. If it appears that they will be detained for an extended period of time we take volunteers who will either remain on scene or return when law enforcement is ready to have the body removed. We have no responsibility to remain with the body once law enforcement takes over.

      It makes no sense to subject my folks to bad weather and time away from sleep to wait around, yet we respect their need to do their job. We haven't really had any extreme delays, they generally respond quickly and are efficient and respectful of our time.

      I'd also like to add that we carry large lightweight tarps that we will either cover the vehicle with or actually put up like a tent around the area of the wreck (by tying up or securing to posts) so that onlookers cannot see the vehicle or victim. It works quite well.

      ------------------
      Susan Bednar
      Captain - Forsyth Rescue
      North Carolina Strike Force 1

      [This message has been edited by NCRSQ751 (edited April 19, 2000).]

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      • #4
        In Ohio, the Coroner is next to God in rank when there is a violent death. Fortunately in this area, we can ususally get a verbal OK to remove the body over the telephone from the coroner. However, it is fully within the scope of his duties to come and examine the scene with the body left where it was found. Being both a full time cop and part time firefighter, I see both sides of the issue. But I feel the needs of the coroner to ensure the cause of death is called correctly are worth the inconvenience if you have to wait for him/her to arrive and make an investigation of the death.

        ------------------
        Richard Nester
        Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

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        • #5
          Same in our part of Ohio.. A phone call usually does the trick, we also have 2 deputy coroners that we can call. They do the removals, unless the FD is needed for extrication. And even at that one of them is on the FD. and our coroner is our MC for our EMS.. Kinda one big Family .. OSP is usually pretty easy to work with as far as the investigative part goes, they photograph everything and allow us to do our jobs.. They seem to understand that we are volunteers and do their best to get us in and out..

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          • #6
            Frustrating isn't it. In NJ, we suffer the same problem. One reason is that the ME or Coroner (Whatever) has to investigate the death. One important part of that is the victim in the vehicle and seeing the position of the body vs the damage to the car. Not like they are all quincy or something, but it does give them a complete picture.

            Suggestion, extrication of the deceased. Have only the minimum number of personnel on scene as is necessary. Do you need 18 members, a rescue and two engines on scene? If not, clear all unnecessary and just maintain the necessary.

            My EMS/Rescue company had all calls of this nature as officer jobs. This is where the officers were responsible to preform the removal. If there were other members who wanted to assist, then they were alllowed. This way, the boss' had to stay up and the remainder could go home.

            Just a thought.
            DOn

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            • #7
              Part of the job here. An unfortunite part, but still a part. We try and assist as much as possible and try to get the investigation finished even sooner. We provide lighting, some traffic control and extrication when finally needed. Works for us.

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              • #8
                Almost the same here in New South Wales. Our police have an accident investigation team who respond to serious accidents (incase there's a fatality). The removal of a deceased falls under the police's juristiction - no longer a rescue. But normally the police don't have the tools for the job so it's up to us to wait around for the OK. We get on pretty good with the police so there's no real problems - we realise that they've got a job to do.
                The Coroner normally only responds to major incidents like mass casualty incidents. Down here the Coroner is God. The Coroner's court is considered the highest court in the nation.

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                • #9
                  In Colorado, you have to wait for the coroner to arrive. If its the middle of the night, you send those home that don't need to be there. I've stood around late at night in the pouring rain for hours waiting for the coroner. I've also waited for hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon too.(the parents stopped at the scene when they recognized the car.) The point is to get as much equipment and manpower back in service as you can and chalk up the waiting around as a time to do a mental health check on everyone before your formal CISD. It all goes with the territory

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                  • #10
                    The perspective from up here (the Canadian side of the border)... and also one who, like Richard,is full time law enforcement and part-time fire fighter/rescue.

                    We all respond to motor vehicle collisions with a view to extricating those persons trapped within that "golden hour" so they can have the greatest chance of survival. It's our duty, one entrusted to us by our neighbours. So naturally, as rescuers, we go about our extrication duties with vigor, enthusiasm and diligence. Unfortunately, on occasion, our duty also requires that "rescue" sometimes gives way to "body recovery" because of the nature of the collision and factors often outside of our control.

                    The law enforcement community, which includes Coroners or M.E.'s, also has a duty entrusted to it by the community - and that is to investigate all serious injuries and deaths with vigor, enthusiasm and diligence. A motor vehicle collision scene is potentially a crime scene, just as surely is the scene of a shooting. And a death caused by a motor vehicle collision must be investigated with the same scrutiny as any other sudden and unexpected death.

                    And just as evidence collected from a homicide scene is very telling, the information collected from a collision scene (including the original position of the decedant) is often crutial to the investigation. In Ontario, the Coroner is the only person with the legislated authority to order the movement of dead body. The increasingly complex nature of our society and its interests means that most often the Coroner will actually attend almost all scenes to authorise the removal of the body.
                    Most law enforcement agencies also have specialised accident reconstructionists (detectives)who will spend hours examining every detail of the scene so that they can recreate it later if it is required as evidence for either a coroners inquest, or proceedings in a criminal court.

                    On occasion, we find that there will be a delay in the response of the coroner, or the investigative team, and so communication between the fire service and law enforcement providers on the scene will often result in a release of equipment and manpower from the scene. The fire department incident commander simply makes the decision for all units to return to active status (go back to the station), with the understanding that a call-back will be required if the decedent remains entrapped. Depending on the circumstances, the decision may be to disentangle the body to the point that it able to be removed (without actually removing it) prior to leaving.

                    Teamwork, communication and cooperation between the agencies working the scene together is the key. To help promote inter-departmental teamwork, your law enforcement agency will likely provide training on MVC investigative requirements so that your firefighters have an appreciation of the "other side", if you ask.

                    "Body-removal" IS part of the job. Standing on the side of the road in pouring rain for four hours isn't. Developing those protocols, and opening lines of communication with the other service providers in your area will help to create a sense of teamwork and appreciation for the "other side".

                    Our community, our neighbours, deserve it.
                    BE SAFE!
                    Diesel

                    PS...True story...neighbouring FD responded to a MVC and removed the deceased driver from the vehicle, placing him on the shoulder of the roadway, behind a police cruiser. The body was covered with one of those disposable yellow blankets so everyone could be aware of where it was. Only thing was, they forgot to tell the cop sitting in the cruiser, who...you guessed it, backed up and drove right over the body a short time later!!!

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                    • #11
                      Thats a major downfall to volunteer agencies. I dont know about you but my time is prescious and not expendable. My dept has the same probel technicall the police run the scene ulitimatly. Any question of this should talk to the Maryland fire chief who was arrested for closing down the road. We do what we have to to aid injured people, and extricate. If they want to do an invest, Then they have a radio they can acll us back and we can respond back at a later time.

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                      • #12
                        I have been reading the posts here and actually was some what surprised by what I have read. We generally spend two hours on a DOA MVA from start to finish (tone out to on the way to my own home). Coroner's investigator is usually on scene in less than 30 minutes (in even the middle of the night). Coroner will pronounce via phone. Investigator does his job and then we remove the body to the meat wagon.

                        Now, how much time do you spend on the average smells and bells call? Generally 45 to 90 minutes around these parts. Have to take the time to make sure all is very well before releasing the scene to avoid the courtroom. Time wise, doesn't seem to be much different. So, I guess I am confused. Is the problem waiting on others to perform their job instead of waiting on our own?

                        As already stated, send back to quarters what you don't need (we send the medic and engine back, rescue stays). Then, use the training opportunity you have at hand - have the least experienced firefighter's perform the extrication under the guide of the more experienced. Find the silver lining! This is an excellant chance for the young firefighters to learn challenging tactics when time is not the driving factor.

                        Just this old dog's thoughts.

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                        • #13
                          Yes, JohnM, that's how it's done in DE now. I don't like it any more than you or a whole lot of the firefighters in DE. Someone forgot that DE is +90% volunteer and that we do this on our time, with no compensation. Once the dead victim is freed, BLS doesn't have to transport. That's the Medical Examiner's job now. BLS does not have to transport any obviously dead or DOA pronounced by ALS.

                          [This message has been edited by dtj (edited May 25, 2000).]

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                          • #14
                            Just a word of caution concerning using fatal MVAs for training. Always respect the deceased and don't forget that this can be a stressful experience particularly for those most likely to need the training. Don't induce a CISD just for the training opportunity. It CAN be a training opportunity but it is not a training session.

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                            • #15
                              Engine 224-

                              You are correct, those are items I had already assumed, but as most officers know, we don't always verbalize everything that runs through our minds in regard to what comes out through the keyboard or our mouths. Important points, all.

                              Stay safe and train safe!

                              Comment

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