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Thread: First Dead Body

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    Vires Et Honestas Falcon57's Avatar
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    First Dead Body

    Had my first dead body today, it really wasn't all that bad considering but yeah the smell is unlike anything I'd ever imagined. It was a simple case of an elderly person passing away unattended so the ME and the State Police waved jurisdiction. That one call still burned almost the entire shift though between waiting for the funeral home to pick up the deceased and writing my report. I'm sure some of my fellow rookies have much more memorable stories on this topic though.
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    Forum Member HI629's Avatar
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    Decomp bodies are the worst. In my younger days i used to work for a mortuary picking up dead bodies and coroner's inquest cases. Burnt bodies are pretty special as well. One thing is constant though, if picking up bodies at night, for some strange reason, I'd always get hungry on the way to and on the way back from the calls. I'd stop at the local 7-Eleven or other 24 hour mini-mart and pick up two chili and cheese hot dogs or two orders of chili and cheese nachos. I'd eat one on the way to the call and one on the way back. The smell and flavor of the chili helped get the "dead body" odor out of my system and kept my sinuses clear. :-)

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    They do have a odor for sure. I always feel "dirty" (no not that way!) after being around a body for a while especially if it's been there for a longer than a day, even if it the smell isn't that bad. The feeling doesn't really go away until I take my uniform off and get a shower then I'm fine. It seems wierd as I don't consider my self much of a germ-freak and always wear gloves.

    Personally I'd rather deal with the body than do the death notification to the family, thats part of the job I really hate. Much lighter atmosphere shooting the crap with the M.E., other officers, funeral home folks, etc. than having to tell someone their loved one just passed away.
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    if the odor effects you, get some "odor screen." All you will smell for about 3 hours is vanilla. After the dead body call, it kind of prevents you from handling any Pot calls.

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    Forum Member gunslash's Avatar
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    my first DOAs were back to back...last job of the night a young lady hung herself to be found by mom and first job of next day was a perp who couldn't pay his drug debts so he blew himself away with an AR15.

    One thing I discovered in those 24 hours : the smell is manageable, until the body is moved and the bowels do what they do best!

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    Forum Member HI629's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunslash View Post
    my first DOAs were back to back...last job of the night a young lady hung herself to be found by mom and first job of next day was a perp who couldn't pay his drug debts so he blew himself away with an AR15.

    One thing I discovered in those 24 hours : the smell is manageable, until the body is moved and the bowels do what they do best!
    The smell from the back end is bad, but a DB breathing on you is a heck of a lot worse. I had to toss a smock once due to a deceased woman breathing on me. As I type this, I can still remember the smell and it's been nearly 20 years ago!

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    Forum Member wbromley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XD4ME View Post
    Personally I'd rather deal with the body than do the death notification to the family, thats part of the job I really hate. Much lighter atmosphere shooting the crap with the M.E., other officers, funeral home folks, etc. than having to tell someone their loved one just passed away.
    I totally agree with you. Nothing really prepares you to deliver that news. I guess it's like anything else and a person can get used to it, but thankfully, I've not had to perform that duty very often.

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    Forum Member Hanmo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falcon57 View Post
    Had my first dead body today, it really wasn't all that bad considering but yeah the smell is unlike anything I'd ever imagined. It was a simple case of an elderly person passing away unattended so the ME and the State Police waved jurisdiction. That one call still burned almost the entire shift though between waiting for the funeral home to pick up the deceased and writing my report. I'm sure some of my fellow rookies have much more memorable stories on this topic though.
    I was an Auxiliary still on my first dead body. Was a 50 plus year old alcoholic man in his apartment, died of "natural causes", if drinking yourself to death slowly over years and years is considered natural. He was gross. He'd been lying facedown on the floor, in his own **** and such, for five days. His face looked like a dead Mr. Potato Head and he smelled awful. Did not enjoy it at all, hope to see that again on a very rare basis.

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    Forum Member chiefjack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarney View Post
    if the odor effects you, get some "odor screen." All you will smell for about 3 hours is vanilla. After the dead body call, it kind of prevents you from handling any Pot calls.
    I carried a small jar of Vicks Vapo Rub with me at all times. A little dab in each nostril killed any odor you could come across.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HI629 View Post
    The smell from the back end is bad, but a DB breathing on you is a heck of a lot worse. I had to toss a smock once due to a deceased woman breathing on me. As I type this, I can still remember the smell and it's been nearly 20 years ago!
    Amen to that

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    For me, Hall's with Menthol works like a charm for the smell, even the ones that "pop"

    Worst one ever for me: A guy dead for a few days in a bath tub... gross.
    If by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies.

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    Forum Member HI629's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheTick View Post
    For me, Hall's with Menthol works like a charm for the smell, even the ones that "pop"

    Worst one ever for me: A guy dead for a few days in a bath tub... gross.

    I had one stewing in an outdoor water catchment tank. The tank looked like a HUGE bowl of "french onion soup". The floating dead rats and other vermin added a nice touch.


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    Molon Labe LA DEP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheTick View Post
    For me, Hall's with Menthol works like a charm for the smell, even the ones that "pop"

    Worst one ever for me: A guy dead for a few days in a bath tub... gross.
    Mine was a female that had been dead for 10-14 days....in a hot tub....that had been running the entire time.
    The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

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    Forum Member MPDCjock's Avatar
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    On my fifth day out of the academy I responded to a call for sounds of gun shots. When I arrived on scene two juveniles were riddled with bullets.

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    Caution: Unvetted member. KenW.'s Avatar
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    My most recent body had been down 13 days in a pasture bordering wetlands. Animal and insect activity was noted.

    Cheap cigars help with the odor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LA DEP View Post
    Mine was a female that had been dead for 10-14 days....in a hot tub....that had been running the entire time.
    Like a giant crock pot...
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    Molon Labe LA DEP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheTick View Post
    Like a giant crock pot...
    Pretty much.

    It really says something when the Homicide Lt (who had been at Homicide for 20ish years) says that that was one of the worst dead bodies he had EVER seen in his career!
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    "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

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    Forum Member slsteiner88's Avatar
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    My first was during an internship I did. It was a hermit who had died 3 months before, during the summer, with his ac off, in the desert. The smell was noticed by the propane guy filling up his tank. Ive seen more since Ive started working but they dont really phase me after that first one.

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    Forum Member DC27's Avatar
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    One of my first was a single dad who passed on Friday and his 9 year old was living in the apartment on his own thinking dad would wake up, I found him on a Tuesday.

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    The Poo Magnet FiVo3's Avatar
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    When I was a volunteer hose-dragger we had a call for lifting assistance. Come to find out the 400+ pound dude had been expired for about a week. Luckily he had the A/C on in the house at about 65* We had to cut the side of the house open and back the gut bus up to it. It took 10 of us to load him into it, unfortunatly for me he busted when we made it through the threshold of the wall. Fortunately we had haz-mat suits and air packs on. I burned my clothes afterwards. To this day I cannot stand the smell of egg salad without dry heaving.
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    Forum Member HI629's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FiVo3 View Post
    When I was a volunteer hose-dragger we had a call for lifting assistance. Come to find out the 400+ pound dude had been expired for about a week. Luckily he had the A/C on in the house at about 65* We had to cut the side of the house open and back the gut bus up to it. It took 10 of us to load him into it, unfortunatly for me he busted when we made it through the threshold of the wall. Fortunately we had haz-mat suits and air packs on. I burned my clothes afterwards. To this day I cannot stand the smell of egg salad without dry heaving.
    Bummer you guys didn't have a black disaster bag to load him up in. I've moved larger decomp cases using the standard black heavy duty bags. Those bags are a life saver in that they contain any fluid and will severely limit the odor emitted while transporting the decedent to the ME office.

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    Two Stand out in my short 3 year tenure.

    First was a 50's ish year old woman who had died alone in her home In July, with no Air conditioning. She had been there about with temps outside reaching 90 ( and inside reaching over 100). I could smell her a block away. They tell me she was a white woman but she looked coal black.

    And Dear God, the Maggots.... Her entire face was covered, the only way you could even tell it was a face was because she had died with her glasses on. and the mass was nearly touching the lens. Being the rookie at the time I got to stay inside the house with her and Animal Control while they got the cats out... and we were out of masks. I was ordered to go home and change.

    Last one was about two weeks ago. Check Welfare call for a 45 year old disabled man. ( The Local Gambling joint's night crew called to check on him, not even his own kin) Get on scene and knock on the door a few times without an answer, ask some neighbors and they haven't seen him in a few days. I found an unlocked window and poked my hear through only to find him on the couch with his face in his lap. We took to calling him the Incredible Hulk because the skin was a dark green and swollen. Also when EMS moved him, his bowels exited through his erm... Lower Back.

    The Smell doesn't get me, it's the damn bugs. Every time.

    Also, I've found that a couple swabs of Liquid Hand Sanitizer in the nostrils works pretty well. And its usually on hand. Ask the Medics for some masks to keep in your car too. They're worth their weight in gold in the summer.
    Last edited by PPDBennaiah; 12-26-2012 at 06:12 AM.

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    My first was a drug addict that OD'ed during the summer. I dealt with him literally a week earlier when he was OD'ing on his lawn; medics were able to save him that time. Called in by neighbors 3 houses away; this guy stunk so bad you could smell him about 4 houses down when the wind would blow. He was in the "bloated" phase, luckily only leaked a little bit of fluids. That smell though...reminded me of warm pizza covered in sugar.

  24. #24
    Molon Labe LA DEP's Avatar
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    Burned flesh is also a very distinctice smell....which is why I gagged for months walking past a hot dog cart
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    Will work for food! 300Busa's Avatar
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    little bit of vicks inside a mask does wonders.
    We don't "LOL" here. This isn't facebook or some text message between BFF's who are all OMG WTFJH and DYST? We type and speak as adults. Fix yourself.

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