Carly Carver, Editor
The Ashland Beacon
Mark Hammond, the Boyd County Coroner, is the Greater Ashland Beacon’s “Hero of the Week.”
Hammond started in 2007 at the Boyd County Coroner’s Office.
Hammond also serves as the Regional Training Coordinator with the Kentucky Fire Commission.
“I started as a volunteer firefighter in 1985,” said Hammond. “Then in 1998 I took over as a Regional Training Coordinator.”
Hammond said that he does trainings for 76 fire departments, as well as EMT and Paramedic Trainings.
While serving in dual roles is a balancing act, Hammond said that the roles also go hand-in-hand which makes things run smoother.
“The good thing is in both roles I have very good people that can help me when I have to leave or be gone,” said Hammond. “They really go hand and hand. I got into the Coroner’s Office because I liked investigating, and I believe everyone needs a thorough investigation with every death.”
Hammond said his day-to-day looks different from most.
“We work six on call shifts, which are 24 hours, and we do six of those a month,” said Hammond. “So if I’m on call that consists of me going up to the office and make sure there are no death certificates that need done, family members contacted, or cases closed out.”
Next, Hammond goes to the fire commission office and work or work out of his office for on call days.
“The jobs kind of mix, but I have full time secretaries/office managers at both,” said Hammond.
Hammond said his office strives for transparency.
“We want people to realize it isn’t just us going out and saying someone is dead, we investigate, and that takes between six and eight hours,” said Hammond. “That takes a lot of our time, but we make sure that we do everything correctly.”
Hammond said that COVID-19 has had an impact on the amount of calls the office has received. Not only are there COVID-19 cases, but there is an increase in overdoses and natural deaths occurring at home.
“Compared to other years, we are getting 100 more calls,” said Hammond.
Hammond said his day-to-day has changed a lot because of the pandemic.
“We have to prepare for the COVID-19 calls, there are more protocols in place for safety,” said Hammond. “I carry an extra bag to change clothes in between calls. If we suspect a COVID-19 call, there is equipment ready.”
Hammond said the most rewarding aspect of his job is when a case is closed, and giving the family the truest form of why their loved one is gone.
“Whether it is good or bad they have closure and they know the truth,” said Hammond. “If I had a love one that died, I would need that closure. People need to know why that happened.”
Hammond said the hardest part of the job is not knowing the why.
“Sometimes we can’t do that,” said Hammond. “Sometimes we can’t find out why.”
Another challenging aspect of Hammond’s job is to not bring his work home.
“Time is a big thing anymore,” said Hammond. “I have to make sure to balance all those acts.”
The Greater Ashland Beacon salutes your service to our community. Thank you for being a local hero.