Visit with Colorado Coroner Chris Herndon

Most people imagine Sunday afternoons to be filled with football and family. Especially now that there will be a football season— and yes, I do hear the collective sigh of all men. But, if you’re a nurse and an author, you think there’s nothing better than to go to a talk given by the local coroner, Chris Herndon.

That’s what I did a few Sundays ago….



http://coloradocoroners.org/board.htm

 As always, I’m always intrigued by medical things and myth busting. Here’s a few highlights that I thought were of particular interest for writers. One even busted a myth I had in my current ms. Guess I’ll be changing that.

Item One: Do coroners really wear Vick’s Vapor Rub under their nostrils to mask the smell? She says “no”– going on to explain that this ointment “opens up the nasal passages” and “why would I want to do that?” Much better to work with a bad cold to block out the smell. I will say though that I will often put on a mask or chew gum to help me. Chris mentioned she always has mints on hand.

Item Two:  Six weeks for DNA testing unless done by a private lab.

Item Three: Victims who drown in flood waters are generally found nude as the water will rip off their clothing.

Item Four: Often times in suicide pacts, one person will not follow through.

Item Five: It really does not pay to drink then cut thyself.

Chris shared two stories that exhibited this.

The first was of a man who was drunk and high (double bad combo) and decided to harass an old girlfriend. He punched his hand through a window, cutting the underside of his arm and severed his brachial artery. After this, he staggered through the parking lot until he dropped dead. Upon police arrival, they follow the trail of blood to the broken window and ask this woman why she didn’t call police after he broke it. Sadly, she’d been harassed so often by this gentleman that she’d given up asking the police for assistance.

Second was of a man who was on Coumadin for atrial fibrillation. Coumadin is a blood thinner. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart beat. This gentleman decided to cook while drunk. He dropped a knife on his the top aspect of his foot and severed the dorsalis pedis artery. Well, he does realize he’s injured himself as there was evidence that he’d walked to the garage to get paper towel to wipe up the mess. He begins to not feel well, so he sits at his kitchen table and places on a home blood pressure cuff. Loss of blood will cause you to feel weak, lightheaded, and dizzy. This is where he’s found dead. At the kitchen table, sitting up with blood pressure cuff in place. A pool of blood by the injured foot.

His blood alcohol was over 0.350. That’s a professional drinker….

So people, please, no drinking with sharp implements! Really… no drinking in excess would be great for us ER professionals. Moral: Have at least one sober person that you haven’t relentlessly harassed present to call 911 for you.

What other morals do you see? Have you written any of these particulars in your ms?

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