Medical Examiner Who Led Sept. 11 Victim Identification Effort Retires

Medical Examiner Who Led Sept. 11 Victim Identification Effort Retires

News Feb 07, 2013

Feb. 07--The city's chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles Hirsch, is retiring, capping a 24-year run in a job viewed as one of the most important in the field of forensic medicine, city officials said Wednesday.

Hirsch, 75, who had been Suffolk County medical examiner before taking the New York City post in 1989 after appointment by then-Mayor Ed Koch, didn't say what had prompted his retirement.

Hirsch is being succeeded by his chief first deputy, Dr. Barbara Sampson. She took over as acting medical examiner Wednesday, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the office.

Borakove added that Hirsch's decision had nothing to do with the firing last week of one DNA lab worker and the suspension of the supervisor of the lab after it was found that some DNA samples related to crimes were mishandled.

During his tenure, Hirsch's office handled an estimated 120,000 autopsies and is widely credited by forensic experts with spearheading the herculean effort to collect, analyze and identify the remains of the 2,753 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Hirsch was himself injured in the collapse of the World Trade Center's south tower after he responded to the scene. He was pulled from the rubble by firefighters, suffered broken ribs and cuts but still went to his office to organize what would become a massive identification process that continues to this day, according to his official biography.

A total of 21,817 remains were recovered and 60 percent were later identified through a variety of means, including DNA analysis done by Hirsch's lab. He publicly stated that he would do whatever it took and as long as it took to identify every victim of the attack.

"I admire him," said professor Charles Brenner, a forensic mathematician who worked with Hirsch in the 9/11 identifications. "He has overshadowed the more flamboyant medical examiners."

"I know he was admired by everybody in the department, and he had reputation for protecting them from pressure from above," Brenner said. "Seventy-five is pretty old to stay in public."

Hirsch took over the job after Koch dismissed the prior medical examiner, Dr. Elliot M. Gross, after an advisory panel reportedly found Gross had deficiencies as a manager.

Copyright 2013 - Newsday

Continue Reading
Anthony M DeStefano
Gia Smith, registered nurse and CEO of Central Valley Speciality Hospital, sprang into action on her cross-country flight when a fellow Californian suffered a heart attack.
Josh Granada, an Orlando Fire Department paramedic, was fired for violating privacy laws after taking an audio recording of a patient and later showing it to his coworkers.
Hawkeye Community College demonstrated the roles of various healthcare professionals treating the injured patients, including paramedics, respiratory therapists, nurses, medical lab technicians, and physical therapists.
The Line of Duty Death project recently erected roadway dedication signs with the names of the firefighters who have died since the foundation of Howard County's volunteer fire station.
EmergyCare is taking applications to provide two women with scholarships to pay for EMT school and textbooks along with jobs upon completion of their training.
Manatee County emergency management officials are asking 100 plus businesses to register their AEDs on the PulsePoint app so users know if there are cardiac arrest victims nearby who need aid.
Baltimore City Council has fielded complaints about 9-1-1 callers being on hold during serious emergencies caused by understaffed dispatch centers and too many non-emergency calls.
The small, military-grade sensor device detects gunshot sounds and sends alerts to police to save more lives in active shooter scenarios.
According to the American Heart Association's newest guidelines, almost half of Americans have high blood pressure.
House Speaker Beth Harwell mandated her staff to attend both active shooter survival and sexual harassment response training.
A Pafford EMS medical helicopter crashed on Sunday night, killing all three crew members on board.
Effingham County Dive Rescue Team consists of difficult but rewarding work, like rescue missions and solving crimes with police.
The 6,700-square foot center features a dispatch center, a large main room for disaster response meetings, and a media room for relaying information during emergencies.
Owensboro Fire Department employees who recently received ALS training from Air Evac Lifeteam have had 83% resuscitation success rates in comparison to the national average of 11%.
While provider safety remains a high priority in EMS education, the topic of patient safety has fallen to the wayside.