Winnebago County launches new mobile morgue to make more room for the dead

The Pandemic and the opioid epidemic have led to higher numbers of bodies and room in morgues may be running out
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 5:01 PM CDT
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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Pandemic and the opioid epidemic have led to more people dying in recent years than usual. In Winnebago County, that has led to a shortage of morgue space.

Now, a mobile morgue has been made available for emergency situations - and the one donated to Winnebago County holds up to eight bodies in a short-term situation until they can be released or autopsied.

However, the County hopes it never has to use it.

“The mobile morgue is a tool that we would use in a mass casualty incident, so short-term, high-capacity, we’re going to exceed the limits of our storage capacity throughout the county or the region,” explained Eric Rasmussen, Winnebago County Emergency Management Director.

The mobile morgue is worth over $30,000 and was given to the county as a donation from the Fox Valley Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition.

“It’s not an every day, not something that we would hope to use really ever,” Rasmussen said.

But the mobile morgue is part of the county’s emergency preparedness plan.

“Mass casualty incidents continue to increase daily and yearly, so it’s something that is a very real threat in our society and in our communities,” Rasmussen noted.

According to the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, the number of deaths in mass casualty incidents also continues to rise.

“Throughout our region and especially in Winnebago County, we do host a large number of events which makes us have the potential for a mass casualty incident on top of just regular life and regular situations,” Rasmussen added.

Mass casualty incidents can be terrorist attacks, multi-traffic crashes, train collisions, or mass shootings. Others include natural disasters such as wildfires or tornadoes.

Winnebago County is prepared for the worst recently acquiring a mobile morgue for use during a mass casualty event.