Seven want to be county medical examiner investigators
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Henry County Medical Examiner Kent Metcalf will be getting some relief as the Henry County Board of Supervisors has accepted seven candidates to be medical examiner investigators.
“This is a positive thing for the county,” Metcalf told the board of supervisors on Tuesday morning. “We probably should have done this years ago.”
With only a few exceptions, a medical examiner must visit the scene whenever there is a death.
“The commitment of the job is that you’re readily available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Metcalf.
Up until last August, Henry County had two medical examiners who could be called — Metcalf and Medical Examiner Investigator Rick Sywassick. However, Sywassick is now retired, and for the past year Metcalf has had to respond to almost every death in the county.
In addition to the work on the scene, the paperwork for each death takes three to four hours, said Metcalf.
Now, however, he will be getting some help, as seven people have signed up to be trained as medical examiner investigators.
“We have a group of seven, which is actually a good-sized group,” commented Community Health Director Travis Johnson. “They all have a medical background.”
The group of seven includes: paramedics Bill Riley, Danny Eversmeyer, Heather Kleemeyer, Jim Steffen and Mark Long; EMT basic Arlo Walljasper and registered nurse Rae Ann Perrott.
“I’m glad these people are stepping up,” commented Supervisor Vice Chairman Marc Lindeen.
The group will undergo an initial training from the state, which the state provides at no cost. After this training, they will be able to handle routine cases, such as for an individual who died at home due to complications from cancer, explained Metcalf.
They would not be able to do irregular cases such as a crime scene or an infant death.
After the initial training, they would have two years to complete a five-day training at St. Louis University. This training would cost the county between $2,000 to $3,000 per person.
The supervisors noted that if the county pays for this training, the investigators would need to make some sort of commitment to working for Henry County, and it was suggested that they serve for at least three years.
Metcalf noted that even if not all seven go through all of the training, even having up to three people on call would help to ease the burden.
“It will be easier if we have more people to rotate,” said Metcalf. “Having that number of persons would allow for it not to interfere with their schedules or vacations.”
The supervisors asked that Metcalf come back at the end of the year to discuss budgeting for training costs in the next fiscal year.
In other business, the supervisors set Aug. 20 as the bid letting for rock crushing at the County Quarry.
Interim County Engineer Clarence Perry noted that plans are to crush 130,000 tons of rock into road stone.
The concrete rock present in the quarry will not be crushed like it has in previous years, noted Perry. The concrete rock is more durable and more valuable than the rock that will be crushed.