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Death investigations up in Marathon County

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) --  A request for more help at the Marathon County Medical Examiner’s office may not go far. Medical Examiner John Larson requested that his chief deputy position be increased from half time to full time at the Human Resources Committee meeting, but committee members would only forward a recommendation to increase the chief deputy by a few hours.

Larson says the workload is up in Marathon County. “We’re on pace right now to get to well over 800 cases by the end of 2013. In comparison, last year in 2012, we had a total of 663 cases.”

There have been more deaths in the county, as the population rises, the number of elderly people is rising, plus the traffic crashes, suicides, and drug overdoses that must be investigated.

Larson says there are other initiatives that take some time, too. “The work load has certainly increased. The other thing that’s been happening is we’ve been working pretty hard with some of the preventative aspects of death investigation, working close with the AODA partnership, the suicide task force, those type of things.”

Marathon County’s Medical Examiner says the increase in death investigations cannot be traced to one specific problem, such as drugs or fatal traffic incidents. “We’re above where I would expect to be for motor vehicle fatalities. We’re above where I would expect to be for suicides. We’re above where I would expect to see for overdoses. It’s across the board for us right now, and I don’t have a good explanation for that.”

The Human Resources Committee’s recommendation to increase the deputy chief Medical Examiner from a Point-5 to a Point-7 full time employee still has to be approved by the county board, and may need other committee approvals first.

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