This article is a part of a series written by the 10th grade Dem. Roots classes called Community Decisions. This article is written by Lillian Soutar.
Rusty looks at the human body like an old car. ”[You] run this car for years and years, and years and the car rusts and eventually something falls off or something breaks and it’s catastrophic you can’t fix it, it’s gone, but you really love this car and you look at a body like it was living and it’s numerous living things within one shell.”
Rusty started his career as a medical examiner, which is someone who looks over people’s unplanned or unexpected deaths to try and find the reason for passing away. There is not always a known cause of death. After working as an examiner, Rusty then became a laboratory technician over 20 years ago. A laboratory technician is someone who works in a lab performing procedures, maintaining and caring for all the machines and equipment, and someone who helps lead scientists or doctors with their work. Throughout his career, he has been affected by many people and their stories. This is just one of many times Rusty was affected by something that happened in his place of work.
When Rusty was a young tech he got paged to the ER early one morning to draw blood from this gentleman for routine tests. This gentleman was having some chest pain and his family was concerned, so they brought him to the hospital. Rusty went into work and set up the lab and drew the bloodwork and he thought everything was good enough for him to go home and get some rest. This gentleman showed no signs of pain or discomfort, “He and his family were laughing and joking the whole time” Rusty added. Rusty went home for the night and ended up getting called back into the hospital. “I got paged again in the morning and it wasn’t for lab work, it was to come in and do an autopsy on the same gentleman.” He had died in the night.
Rusty was shocked at how something, even someone’s life can change in just a matter of a few hours. “It was profoundly sad because I saw this man alive the night before and that’s the first time that happened to me.” The public thinks of medical professionals as people who only take care of the flourishing population, but doctors also take care of the lifeless as well.
This is not the only time that Rusty has been affected by a difficult situation when doing autopsies. Rusty mentioned that he has seen many young people who have died from car accidents from drinking and driving.“We’ve had to do many autopsies on teenagers who come in from horrific car accidents.” Rusty has since become a Laboratory Manager which is someone who supervises the operations in a scientific laboratory.
Rusty believes that when you work in any or all parts of the medical field you’re exposed to death quite often. He thinks because of the constant exposure to death, you become more aware of death. He doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. “It’s almost like you have a respect for death and a respect for life but it really makes you realize how precious it really is”.