For the first time, RFID tags are being used to manage morgue cases. Radio chips are helping morgue keep track of hurricane victims.
Radio frequency identification chips — slender red cylinders about half an inch long — were implanted under the corpses' skin or placed inside body bags at two Mississippi counties.
Each VeriChip, donated by a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions Inc., emits a specific radio signal, enabling morgue workers to quickly locate and catalog the remains, speed the morgue-management process and reduce errors.
With 48 of the 133 bodies recovered in Harrison and Hancock counties still unidentified as of Sunday, Harrison County Coroner Gary T. Hargrove said the chips have been a boon to the Disaster Mortuary Operational Recovery Team he oversees. "It's better enabled me to do my job as the coroner — tracking and getting people's loved ones back to them quickly," he said.
Beside tagging the storm victims, which are kept in refrigerated trucks at Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport, the chips are helping Hargrove catalog other human remains that the flood waters dislodged from caskets and burial vaults.