In the aftermath of a sexual assault, time is of the essence. The victim is interviewed by law enforcement and examined by a sexual assault medical forensic examiner, or SAMFE, as soon as possible. One of the most important jobs a SAMFE has is to collect evidence and document injuries.
To help document these injuries, the forensic examiners at Womack Army Medical Center have a new piece of equipment designed specifically for capturing the images a SAMFE that could potentially be used as evidence in a court case.
“The camera really better enables us to do our jobs,” said Kelly Taylor, the lead nurse for the SAMFE program at WAMC. “The images we are capturing appear on a large display with a grid.
“This grid enables us to select the area where the injury we’re documenting is and focus in on it using voice commands.”
Womack has 20 SAMFEs on staff, with at least one on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each year, every forensic examiner must undergo mandatory recertification training. The hospital hosted their annual training session in the Emergency Department, May 10 and 11.
In addition to learning the new camera system, the forensic examiners also performed hands-on practice examining a patient and received instruction from the civilian and military partners who are a part of the process of a sexual assault case to include law enforcement and legal personnel.
“This training is a valuable opportunity for us to come together and ensure we’re using best practices in everything we do,” said Taylor.
“The victims who come to see us are experiencing one of the worst moments in their lives. It’s our job to ensure we do what’s right for them in the most professional and compassionate manner possible.”
WAMC’s sexual assault medical forensic examiners perform forensic exams, when needed, for active-duty service members, Reservists, National Guardsmen and military Family members, including pediatric patients.