Wednesday, February 21, 2007

BYOS - Katrina

by blogger jgl

AAFS Annual Meeting (Bring Your Own Slides - BYOS):

Anyone see that movie Magnolia? It begins with a scene where a forensic scientist is describing a case where a person jumps out a window and gets shot on the way plummeting to his death. If I have my facts straight, that was a real case described in one of these BYOS events. It is occasionally heralded as the best part of the AAFS meeting. It is a 2 hour informal session of forensic scientists talking about unique cases.

This year was pretty decent. The following is my interpretation of some of the stories told. I try to be as accurate as possible.

There were a couple presentations concerning the identification of Katrina remains. New Orleans coroner Frank Minyard told the story of how FEMA wanted him to go to Houston after the storm; instead, he drove back into the city, then swam back to his flooded coroner's office. The morgue there was useless. A group was stranded there for the famous 4 days without food or water.

Dr. Minyard and some other noble forensic pathologists, along with DMORT (a federal group that did a GOOD job during the disaster), put forth quite an effort in the aftermath processing and identifying the dead in a make-shift morgue created north of the city. One of the highlights of his story included them having to use a tent to "hide" the transfer of bodies from the morgue to the hearse - This was in order to prevent the media from hovering in helicopters hoping to get a money shot. Also, apparently FEMA spent a good bit of money building a nice morgue that was finished just as the last body was identified in the "make-shift" morgue. When New Orleans wanted to use it to perform autopsies once normal crime picked up in January of '06, they were denied use because federal regulations do not allow the morgue to be used for "normal" state autopsies. Apparently it just sits there unused. Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that I did a article on Katrina and then I came to this blog page and it was something recent on Katrina. The reason for me leaving a comment on this blog is because at the end of the article it mentioned how a new morgue was built in New Orleans but its not to be used for "normal" autopsies. WHAT THE F@#K IS "NORMAL" AND WHY THE HELL WAS IT BUILT IF IT COULDN'T BE USED!!!! It saddens me, that in the news and around the world people already say the government basically did Katrina victims wrong and when there are means to help in any way, there is a slap in the face. Katrina wasn't "NORMAL" by any means, yes the deaths may be "normal crimes" but in this case and just to put it out there "ANY" cases should be able to be use the morgue. I applaud all the men and women that help in anyway with the victims of Katrina and I say "the hell with federal regulations, where were the regulations when the levees broke. The hurricane may had something to do with it but if the leeves were built like they should have been under "federal regulations" there wouldn't have been this tradegy. Its just a thought to put out there for the readers. And yes, this is a sensitive topic for me.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, I think I got off the subject in hand, this article proves me right on saying that government doesnt care what happened to Katrina victims.

Forensic Bloggers said...

you could tell the lecturers were frustrated by the system. I think the morgue is being used now, but it is stupid that the federal and state gov'ts can't cooperate a little more.

i think katrina certainly taught us that a mindless system won't work unless there are motivated, hard-working thinkers behind it.

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