Autopsy Trailer

I had the opportunity today to work with some wonderful people from State Fleet (motor pool), and the motor carrier division of the DMV. I needed to get a license plate for a refrigerated trailer. (Recently, the Medical Examiner’s Office acquired a 17-foot, 12-body, refrigerated trailer for the purpose of storing dead bodies.) The process had me baffled for several months until these nice people spent time explaining and walking me through the process.

Licensing this trailer as a state vehicle with exempt plates was difficult because, for one, it is not a vehicle. For two, this trailer is not owned by Fleet, rather it’s owned by the Department of Health, so it has no associated fleet number. This fact made it difficult to register because Motor Carrier needed a fleet number in order to assign exempt plates. You can see the dilemma. To further complicate matters we couldn’t locate an account for the Medical Examiner’s Office. When we finally located an account, we realized that the difficultly in locating the account came from a necessary clerical abbreviation. (The field was not long enough to type Office of the Medical Examiner with all spaces provided, so the original clerk removed the space between “of” and “the” to make the entry fit.)

I added more confusion to the process because the last time we had to register a trailer was over ten years ago when the office purchased a mobile autopsy trailer and I was not a part of that process. The refrigerated trailer was purchased to compliment the mobile autopsy trailer which is used in field operations where isolation and containment are essential in the death investigation. (The benefit of trailers is that they are easier to decontaminate and contain bio-hazard material than a large facility, and they are mobile.)

To make a long story short, we prevailed, and now I have a license plate for the trailer. Thank you to my friends at the motor pool and DMV.

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