The Stark County (Canton) Coroner's Office brought in a "temporary morgue" via the Ohio Department of Health last week to accommodate the vast influx of heroin overdose victims.
This is standard procedure in public health emergencies, according to the state. County coroners may seek emergency assistance, and that's what Stark County and other local governments are dealing with: an all-out emergency. Assistance arrived March 10 in the dead of night, in the form of a "cold storage mass casualty trailer." The coroner's office, which can store 12 bodies on a typical day, found itself with 16 bodies in its custody last Friday.
But the fact that we've arrived at all at the point of "cold storage mass casualty trailers" in suburban Northeast Ohio is far from standard procedure. Or, rather, it would seem like it should
"It's a shame it had to come to this in our county," Stark County investigator Rick Walters told the Canton Repository
, which snapped a photo of the trailer over the weekend
. "It's been happening in all the other counties around us." Indeed, the Montgomery County (Dayton) Corner's Office recently asked
a local funeral parlor for help in storing human bodies.
Walters also pointed out that there's a certain percentage of overdose victims who are declared indigent and must, therefore, be held by the coroner's office for longer than other victims, necessitating as much extra room as possible.
Stark County has clocked at least 90 overdose deaths so far this year. On March 3, we reported
that Cuyahoga County had seen at least 109 overdose deaths.