By Savitre “Rapture” Schaefferkoetter, Staff Writer
For this issue, I interviewed Kelly Carow of the Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory, otherwise known as “the lab.” Carrow’s official title is Toxicology Evidence Technician, which is unique because she serves as a liaison for the lab upstairs and the District Six Medical Examiner’s Office (“MEO”) downstairs.
Previously, she was employed as an administrative assistant for the lab, working with paperwork in the front office, but when the technician job opened up, Carow completed the training and has been serving in this position ever since.
Carow processes case samples submitted not only from MEO but from the law enforcement agencies of Pinellas County. The case evidence is usually biological specimen and medications from decedents. At times, unique items are submitted such as cockroach-ridden medication, a metal-rodded tooth and syringes, which are accepted if the decedent took controlled substances intravenously.
Carow’s role is demanding since evidence must be processed in a timely manner so that analysis may begin. Her social communication skills must also be fine-tuned, and oftentimes, she prepares samples to be sent out for external testing to other forensic laboratories, which requires copious paperwork and timely pickup for delivery by an external company.
MEO will request samples to be released back to them, and Carow is responsible for preparing that as well. The medication that is inventoried is sometimes analyzed by the chemistry section of the lab, so a signing over custody must take place.
Carow must interact with several parties simultaneously, so attentiveness to phone calls and emails is an absolute necessity. As stressful as such an occupation may be, a human side can still exist. As each case is submitted with a brief synopsis of the death scenario, Carow understands that death affects us all, some more intensely than others.
“I like to pray for the families to receive peace and comfort at this hard time,” Carow said.
She understands that co-sleeping is a huge factor in infant deaths. In fact, the district chief medical examiner, Jon Thogmartin, is very outspoken against it. See his interview on PBS.org.
A lot can be learned about the value of life in a career dealing with deaths.
“There are things I’m more aware of now working at the lab,” Carow said.
Featured Image: Jon Crel via Flickr
Article Image: Special to The Jade Times