Local law enforcement, fire company volunteers and ambulance personnel gathered Saturday morning, March 4, for a class on preserving crime and death scenes presented by the Susquehanna County Coroner’s Office.
The training provided information and guidelines for first responders on the scene of a death, crash or crime scene investigation.
Coroner Anthony Conarton, along with Chief Deputy Sean Hennessey and Deputy/Forensic Case Coordinator Jessica Chiarmonte, offered guidelines at death scenes. Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Michael Joyce provided crash scene information and Trooper Briana Hollenbeck detailed crime scene protocols.
Hollenbeck noted that first responders “vastly outnumber” police at a scene and cautioned how a working crime scene can “get out of hand easily.”
She noted that with cell phones and social media, sometimes a group of bystanders will show up to a scene and their emotions can be heightened. Hollenbeck warned the emergency responders to be aware of the situations that “could spiral very easily.”
Hollenbeck also cautioned first responders about sharing information from a crime scene. “Don’t be the individual that shares that little nugget of withheld information that could help (police) figure the case out,” she said.
Lt. Joyce, the patrol section commander based in Dunmore, spoke about crash scene preservation – explaining some of the science and math that go into crash scene reconstruction, as well as vehicle crash data.
“All the math does not mean anything unless the scene is secure,” Joyce said.
He noted the importance of on-scene notes, including the location of people in the vehicle. Joyce also said witnesses at a crash scene are often more likely to speak with first responders than to police.
Both Hollenbeck and Joyce expressed their appreciation to the coroner’s office and first responders.
Forensic Case Coordinator Jessica Chiarmonte went through guidelines for emergency services at a death scene, including the need for every person entering the scene to fill out an Emergency Services Death Scene Form.
Conarton and Chiarmonte reviewed cases with the group – including identifying natural deaths, as well as hypothermia, motor vehicle crash, accidental deaths, and infant deaths.
Conarton reminded first responders to call the county communication center to request the coroner’s office.