In addition to investigating unnatural deaths, The Franklin County Coroner's Office engages in a number of community outreach initiatives. These include educational opportunities, Interagency Informational Sessions, Drug Overdose Death Initiative, and conferences like The Franklin County Opiate Crisis Summit on March 23, 2016.
Educational opportunities at The Franklin County Coroner's Office include hosting rotating medical students, college interns, shadowing, and tours for classes in medical and forensic programs. Additionally, coroner's investigators visit local schools and libraries to present on forensics and the role of the coroner’s office.
The Franklin County Coroner's Office also hosts Interagency Informational Sessions, in which outside agencies visit the coroner’s office, to foster positive relationships between agencies. These sessions provide an opportunity for the coroner’s office to explain our role to the outside agencies we work with, as well as ask questions about their protocols and procedures.
In addition to educating others about the role of the coroner’s office, we are active participants in the community and take action to address community issues. The Franklin County Coroner, Dr. Anahi M. Ortiz, MD, considers opiate-related deaths a cause for concern in Franklin County. In March 2015, Dr. Ortiz convened the Drug Overdose Death Initiative, a monthly multi-agency review board, to gather together agencies and organizations throughout Franklin County. During DODI meetings all agencies review their records for interactions with overdose death decedents and report the resources that they had accessed in life. Then the review board discusses points at which different interactions could have been made, such as connecting the decedent with different resources or interventions. Through this discussion existing resources are highlighted and emerging resources are identified for future use. Additionally, it became apparent that further collaboration from the community was necessary to enact true change and The Franklin County Opiate Crisis Summit was initiated. For more information about the 2016 Franklin County Opiate Crisis Summit please visit http://coroner.franklincountyohio.gov/opiate-crisis-summit/opiate-crisis-summit and click on the 2016 Opiate Crisis Summit page to access presentation materials.
An additional cause Dr. Ortiz plans to address is suicide in the aging population. The suicide rate in people over the age of 50 is increasing. The Franklin County Coroner’s Office, in conjunction with The Ohio State University Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology and College of Nursing, are in the process of planning a campaign to raise awareness of this issue and decrease the statistics.
In 2016, The Franklin County Coroner’s Office has invested significant time and resources in improving and expanding the Mass Fatality Response Plan, last revised in 2008. The purpose of a mass fatality response plan is to develop and put in place a set of protocols and procedures prior to such an incident to enable an effective acute mass fatality response. The Franklin County Coroner’s Office Mass Fatality Response Plan has been developed in accordance with joint seal guidance from Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Ohio Department of Health, and Ohio State Coroner’s Association. Mass fatality response is a coordinated effort involving various city and county agencies, as such, plans must be properly tested and evaluated before implementation to maintain Federal Emergency Management Agency’s planning cycle guidelines.
The Franklin County Coroner’s Office is currently engaged in testing and evaluation of the Mass Fatality Response Plan and will be participating in a Full-Scale, Mass Casualty Preparedness Exercise (emergency simulation) at Rickenbacker International Airport. Exercises such as these are required triennially by the Federal Aviation Administration. The event date has been set for Tuesday, June 14, 2016 and will run from 11:00 a.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m. The purpose of this exercise is to test and evaluate emergency response plans of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio National Guard, Air National Guard, Central Ohio Public Information Network, Central Ohio Trauma Systems, Madison Township Fire Department, first response emergency services, hospitals, community non-profits, and other local emergency preparedness organizations in the event of a major disaster (aircraft, natural or otherwise).”