Quorum Court approves Coroner's equipment purchases

The Union County Quorum Court last week authorized Coroner Stormey Primm to purchase new equipment for his office at a cost of $19,875.51.

Justices of the Peace didn't discuss the ordinance before voting unanimously for its passage, likely because Primm gave a sneak-peak of his proposal during April's regular Quorum Court meeting.

Included in the funding request were four Junkin brand heavy-duty mortuary cots with covers at a cost of $13,591.40; a replacement camper shell for the coroner's body transport truck at a cost of $4,315; and 100 body bags at a cost of $1,969.11.

Primm said the cots he is currently using are not safe to carry the remains of local residents on.

"I carry two of them in my truck. One of them is the original cot we bought when I took office. At that time, funds in my budget were very limited and it is very unsafe to use," Primm told JPs in April. "We don't use it unless we absolutely have to. It's flimsy, it flexes."

Primm said he would keep one cot in his Durango; two in the transport truck; and one in the office, to reduce the amount of times bodies have to be moved around once they've been placed in the morgue.

"So when we take the bodies in and out of the cooler, we don't always have to take the body off, because that's one of the main places we risk damage to a body or a body bag is moving them on and off the stretcher into the cooler," he said.

The 100 body bags would be surplus supplies, and would serve in the incident of a mass casualty incident, Primm said.

"Every year, I ask for a certain amount of money in our budget just for body bags. Usually, by the end of the year, we are down to about less than five body bags. I'm usually able to tally that pretty close," he said. "That 100 would allow us, in the case of any kind of mass incident, to be able to supply those body bags and not worry with running out."

The camper shell would replace a previously purchased on, adding storage capacity for supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE).

"Originally, when we got our camper shell, we weren't thinking about storage or anything on the truck... being able to carry out body bags on one side, our investigation equipment, our disinfection equipment, all the PPE we're having to carry now," he said. "We want to have it stored nice and organized so it's easy to access... I feel like that would be a lot safer on our guys, and a lot more readily usable for us."

The new equipment will be purchased with federal COVID-19 relief disbursed to the county through Pres. Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan Act.

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