Forensic Autopsy Technician
- What Success Looks Like In This Job
The Autopsy Technician is primarily responsible for assisting in the forensic autopsy procedure and performing the associated duties, as well as maintaining the morgue. The Autopsy Technician works closely with other forensic personnel and must have a clear understanding of departmental policies and procedures, proper forensic practices, safety, environmental and infection control standards, and quality assurance.
The Office of the Coroner is governed by state law and serves Adams and Broomfield Counties. The Office is responsible for determining the manner and the cause of death of individuals that die under the jurisdiction of the office, from unexpected, unexplained, and/or unnatural causes. The Office serves a total of two counties, ten municipalities, and one town, and covers a geographic area of approximately 1,200 square miles. The Office receives approximately 4,000 reported deaths per year and performs approximately 650 forensic autopsies annually.
The type of work that this position performs is best described as fast-paced, dynamic, and physically demanding. The Autopsy Technician must be able to independently plan/prioritize, adapt to a changing caseload, exercise logical reasoning and problem solving skills, efficiently manage time, be able to multi-task, pay strict attention to detail, and adhere to policies, procedures, and standards of practice. The Autopsy Technician must be able to work efficiently independently and collectively. Work involves a variety of sensitive and confidential material. The ideal candidate is hard-working, organized, self-motivated, adaptable, detail oriented, mature, dedicated, and able to work under heightened emotional situations and unpleasant/stressful conditions. The Autopsy Technician is a representative of the Office of the Coroner and is involved in a myriad of interpersonal contacts. Such contacts require a high degree of interpersonal communication skills, professionalism, tact, and etiquette.
The Autopsy Technician spends most of the time in a morgue/ laboratory/autopsy environment and must be able to work with the associated conditions and hazards. Work requires use of personal protective equipment and is characterized by regular exposure to malodors, decomposed remains, infestations, infectious bacteria, fungi, viruses, and caustic and irritant materials. As well as exposure to traumatic deaths, such as child and elder abuse/neglect cases, mass fatalities, violent homicides, motor vehicle fatalities, and mutilated and severed remains.
- Examples of Duties for Success
The following duty statements are illustrative of the essential functions of the job and do not include other non-essential or marginal duties that may be required. The omission of specific duties does not necessarily exclude them from the position requirements. The Chief Coroner reserves the right to modify or change the duties or essential functions of the job at any time.
Working under the general supervision of the Deputy Chief Coroner, the Autopsy Technician:
- Prepares pre-autopsy and post-autopsy paperwork. Prepares autopsy facility, equipment, tools, materials, and body for autopsy procedure.
- Photographs the deceased, organs, injuries, and evidence.
- Surgically opens and closes the cranium and body cavity during the autopsy procedure. Assists with the autopsy evisceration and other procedures as directed.
- Assists with forensic examinations.
- Collects toxicology fluids, specimen samples, DNA samples, and fingerprints. Enters in laboratory results and requisitions.
- Collects and preserves personal effects and evidence. Prepares and maintains chain-of-custody records.
- Performs external examinations of the deceased and diagnostic imaging such as skeletal and dental radiographs.
- Operates, maintains, and cleans the morgue/autopsy facility and morgue/autopsy equipment and tools.
- Transports bodies to and from refrigerated storage.
- Maintains medical supply storage areas and inventory.
- Prepares outgoing deliveries and accepts incoming deliveries, including supplies, toxicology, histology, property, evidence, and specimens.
- Conducts, or assists with, the intake, preparation, accession, maintenance, preservation, and disposition of bio-hazardous materials/waste, property, evidence, toxicology, histology, medication, bodies, and/or specimens.
- Composes, prepares, transcribes, interprets, and/or reviews a variety of written documents; independently or at the direction of office administrators.
- Operates a variety of office equipment.
- Directs interns and attendees while they are in the autopsy facility.
- Answers telephones, greets public, participates in education outreach programs, and performs clerical tasks as assigned.
- May respond to death scenes as assigned.
- May transport bodies, materials, and specimens to outside locations.
- May be called upon to testify in court proceedings.
- May be required to work overtime, unexpectedly/upon short notice, holidays, weekends, on-call, evenings/nights, during inclement weather, and during mass fatalities as assigned.
- Performs other duties as assigned.
- Qualifications for Success
- Must be able and willing to work overtime, unexpectedly/upon short notice, holidays, weekends, on-call, evenings/nights, during inclement weather, and during mass fatalities, as assigned.
- Must be able and willing to work with the deceased and with the conditions listed in Environmental Demands.
- Must properly use the English language: spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Must have knowledge of proper forensic autopsy practices and techniques.
- Must have knowledge of proper handling and processing of evidentiary material.
- Must have knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology.
- Skill in working with human remains.
- Skill in digital photography and photography equipment.
- Skill in typing and operating office equipment.
- Ability to work independently and collectively.
- Ability to execute and follow policies, procedures, standards of practice, and oral/written directives.
- Ability to exercise good judgment, multi-task, efficiently manage time, and respond appropriately to a changing workload/caseload.
- Ability to establish and maintain an effective working relationship with co-workers, other agencies, and the general public.
- More Qualifications for Success
Education and Experience:
Possess a certification, Associate's degree or higher education in a human science field such as biology, nursing, medical/surgical assisting, emergency medicine, anatomy and physiology, mortuary science, or other related field.
Possess at least one year full time (1560+ hours) of specialized applicable experience.
Possess an appropriate combination of education and specialized experience, as described above, to effectively fulfill the duties of the position.
License or Certificate
- Must possess a valid unrestricted driver's license and have a Colorado State driver's license prior to start of employment.
- Must successfully pass a criminal background investigation, motor vehicle record review, education and employment background investigation, character assessment, polygraph examination, psychological examination, medical evaluation, and drug test.
- Must have no felony convictions.
- Must have no major driving violations or driving suspensions within the last five years and have no more than three driving violations within the last five-year period.
Physical Demands:The following are some of the physical activities commonly associated with this position. They are included for informational purposes and are not all inclusive.
- Occasionally sits.
- Frequently stoops, kneels, balances, climbs, and crouches to perform job tasks and often times while simultaneously lifting.
- Frequently required to lift, push, or pull burdens of over 100 pounds, including deceased bodies.
- Frequently exposed to environmental conditions and bio-hazardous conditions.
- Constantly stands and walks in order to complete duties requiring mobility.
- Constantly utilizes full scope of visual capacity to perform job tasks.
- Constantly utilizes eye, hand, and finger coordination to perform job tasks.
- Must be able to lift at least 100 lbs.
- Must be able to work under stressful circumstances.
- Must be able to work under environmental and physical demands of position.
- OCCASIONALLY: Activity exists less than 1/3 of the time.
- FREQUENTLY: Activity exists from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time.
- CONSTANTLY: Activity exists more than 2/3 of the time.