A $2,500 gift from the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary was used to a purchase digital camera used by specially trained nurses to collect evidence for sexual assault investigations.
Devin Trinkley, RN, FNE-A/P, coordinator of the Shore Health System Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE) program, and her team of SAFE nurses use the cameras in the hospital emergency department to photograph injuries a person sustained during an alleged sexual assault.
“These digital cameras replace the MedScope videotaping equipment we had been using for the past 10 years,” Trinkley explains. “The MedScope required two people to operate it and had no previewing or storage capability. Now, one nurse can use the digital camera to take still and video images.”
Trinkley adds, “We can review the digital images as we take them to be sure we have high quality photos or videos. Images taken with the digital camera can also be downloaded to a computer and the photos can be printed so that they can be retained as evidence by law enforcement officials.”
As simple to use as a point-and-shoot camera, the Canon EOS Rebel digital has a powerful macro lens for close up shots and the ability to magnify images taken during a physical examination. “We can zoom in to within an inch of the victim’s body and enlarge the image to see new injuries and healing scars,” Trinkley says.
Shore Health System’s SAFE nurses are on call 24 hours a day, every day, to conduct physical examinations of assault victims who come to the emergency departments at Memorial Hospital and Dorchester General Hospital. “We have six nurses who are trained in this specialty,” Trinkley says. “Since 2005 the number of sexual assault cases we have handled has tripled. We are grateful to the Auxiliary for helping us get equipment that makes it easier for us to care for patients under stressful situations while we assist law enforcement and the social service agencies that investigate these assault cases.”