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Columbia County coroner to borrow trailer instead of buy one

Posted: August 26, 2014 - 11:07pm
The Major Incident Reponse Unit, or "mobile morgue," sits in the parking lot of the Richmond County Coroner's Office on Eighth Street.   Photo by Travis Highfield
Photo by Travis Highfield
The Major Incident Reponse Unit, or "mobile morgue," sits in the parking lot of the Richmond County Coroner's Office on Eighth Street.

After expressing interest in purchasing a “mobile morgue” earlier in the week, Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said he would save some money by borrowing one owned by the Richmond County Coroner’s Office
instead.

Columbia County Commission members approved pay raises for Collins and his deputy coroners at Tuesday’s meeting, and after the meeting, Collins said he would like to purchase a refrigerated trailer to be used in cases involving mass casualties or infectious illnesses. The trailer was estimated to cost less than $45,000.

The unit would come in handy in mass-casualty situations such as a plane crash, Collins said.

“If you have an airplane and people are scattered everywhere, it’s easier to take (bodies) 10 at a time instead of one by one,” he said.

When news outlets reported the wish list item, Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen reached out to say his trailer is available for use any time.

“I just don’t see the need to
spend money to duplicate something that’s in a neighboring county,” Collins said.

Bowen said his trailer, known as the Major Incident Response Unit, has been with the coroner’s office for about six years, and there have been no disasters.

“We have it for our general use, but we’ll assist any surrounding counties that need our help,” he said.

The unit can run on gas or electricity and can hold up to 22 bodies in the event of a disaster. Bowen said the trailer is fairly low maintenance, and rarely needs service.

As the District 2 director for the Georgia Coroner’s Association, Bowen said he will reach out to the 32 counties he represents, as well as some South Carolina counties, to extend the same offer he gave Collins.

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