I chose to do my internship at the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office to observe how different fields of study and expertise combine during death investigations. My goal was to look death in the eye and explore the role of the death investigator. The experience I gained from my internship taught me how to conduct thorough investigations and clarified the type of career I want to pursue.
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office is responsible for providing medicolegal death investigations, autopsies, toxicology, and laboratory services in Austin. Their purpose is to provide legal certification of cause and manner of death for cases involving sudden, unexplained, suspicious, unattended, violent, or unnatural deaths. Most of the cases TCMEO handles are within Travis County, but they also assist in cases across a number of surrounding counties. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While at TCMEO, I got the opportunity to go on many different scenes- drug overdoses, suicides, natural deaths, and motor vehicle accidents. I was not allowed to go on any possible homicides or suspicious deaths, due to the sensitive nature and the amount of time it takes to process those scenes. I also got a few opportunities to take some of the photographs, mostly the final one. The final photograph on scene is of the zip-tie tag that seals the body bag, which is signed by the investigator, officer or detective on scene, and transport.