Sunday, February 20, 2005

And After We Wrap 'Em, We Can Ship Them To a Polling Station and Have Them Vote For Governor

Washington state's disaster relief agencies are a little more inventive than its counties' elections departments:

The Thurston County Coroner's Office recently won approval to purchase a machine able to shrink-wrap human remains. The process would make it easier to transport a large number of bodies.

After the bodies have been autopsied and identified, they would be zipped into body bags, placed on a plywood trays and covered with cardboard lids.

The trays would then be pushed through the machine and come out in shrink-wrapped packages. The wrapped bodies would be easier to carry than body bags and less disturbing for workers, county Coroner Judy Arnold recently told The Olympian newspaper.

....Emergency officials around the region began discussing the idea after the terrorist takeover of a Russian school in September and December's tsunamis, which killed more than 120,000 in Southeast Asia.

Photos of both events revealed the dead lying on the ground or being tossed into pickups.

The emergency officials want to avoid dealing with numerous limp and hard-to-carry body bags, especially in a situation where volunteer workers may not be used to handling human remains, Arnold said.

The shrink-wrapped bodies could be moved with forklifts, and the extra plastic covering would seal in biohazards such as anthrax in the case of bioterrorism.

The entire machine could be wheeled on a trailer to other parts of the state or taken by helicopter, Arnold said.

...."You know, it's neat, but it's kind of creepy," she said. "It's one of those things you spend a lot of money for and hope you never have to use it."

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