Back in 1976, Jack Klugman played Quincy, the Medical Examiner, on a show (aptly) called Quincy, M.E.
And from the moment I first saw the show, I wanted to be an M.E. Of course, that dream wasn’t too be (the smell of decomposing bodies are hard to get over, plus there was the small hurdle of my tendency to reverse numbers), but I still love everything morgue. I know it sounds a little macabre, but I think pathologists are the modern version of the warrior–they delve into flesh, and bone (and fluid) to find the answers: who killed this person? Why did they die? Did it have to happen?
So, when Metro Continuing Education offered a day workshop at the Edmonton Medical Examiner’s I was on board! What an AWESOME class. There were so many cool (or maybe I should say “cool”) things, like in Alberta, a doctor cannot claim doctor-patient privilege and deny the M.E. access to information because the doctor would be charged. Also, the location of a body in a room can determine how fast it decomposes, that Canada has both a Medical Examiner’s system and a Coroner’s System, and that children’s bones don’t survive fires.
Some of the pictures were graphic–although, the ones that I had the hardest time with were the ones where the woman’s body had bloated (though it was the bloating, so much as the angle of the photo), and the one where the maggots had taken over the guy’s face.
The workshop covered the history of the M.E., the Golden Triangle (scene, body, and history investigation), and how they determine time of death. It also included a tour of the facilities (including a walk through the body storage closet and a chance to look at a brain damaged by meningitis).
Very cool stuff for anyone who wants to write police procedurals, or is just interested in how close CSI gets to the truth of an M.E.’s investigation