Q&A with Boulder County Coroner, Emma Hall
When did you know you wanted to become coroner?
When I was a young child, only four years old, there was a murder that occurred near my home. At the time this incident left me with so many unanswered questions; however, one question always remained with me. Were the family’s questions answered? That question and this case inspired me to take an interest in becoming a coroner.
Do you have a personal tie to organ and/or tissue donation?
I have a cousin whose daughter was hit and killed by a car just one week prior to Christmas many years ago. She was only sixteen at the time; she passed away several days later in the hospital. Multiple discussions were had with many mixed emotions and opinions amongst various family members; although, in the end the final wishes of her parents were to proceed with donation. Her gift to other children helped her parents have some closure in their great loss. These are the types of cases that remind me how important the gift of donation can be to the family.
Tell us about the first time your work involved organ and/or tissue donation.
When I first started working in this field, donation was a high priority for the Coroner’s Office where I was employed. That exposure provided a great opportunity for a lot of education and experience with families and decedents who went through the donation process. There are too many cases to select just one or even a first. They have all left a lasting impression on me and will continue to do just that.
What about organ and/or tissue donation makes you committed to helping facilitate the donation?
I think in this field it’s important to find the positive things when we can. One of the areas that I find very rewarding is working with families to help facilitate the last wishes of their loved ones. I believe, anytime we can ensure their wishes are met we should do just that. When those include donation, I am always committed to help facilitate the donation while still balancing the responsibility to determine manner and cause of death. Although I know we could never heal a loss, I know we can make the interaction less impacting by assisting the families in any way we possibly can.
What is the one thing you would want others to know about your work?
I would want them to know just how rewarding this role can be. I wouldn’t define it as work. Although it may seem odd to some, I find the role of a coroner extremely rewarding. It takes special people with passion to fit into that role, and it’s a very important role. We definitely meet people at the most difficult times of their lives, this is inevitable. However, knowing that we can fulfil the role of assisting families through the process of losing a loved one is extremely rewarding. That’s why it is so much more than just work that I do or a job I currently have.
What are you most proud of?
I am very honored to be able to serve my community as the Boulder County Coroner. As a child it was one of my dreams to make a difference in my community, and I truly feel with my role as a Coroner I have accomplished that. I am proud of the service that I have provided for the community and the improvements I have been able to make to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office as a whole.
What book is on your nightstand?
Live Happy! A book of inspirational thoughts on love, life and laughter.