RFID FOR TRACKING THE DEAD

The sad toll from Hurricane Katrina continues. Today, we hear that coroners are using RFID chips to help keep track of the corpses that are being brought by emergency workers to the areas' morgues.

The tiny red cylinders that transmit unique radio frequencies have been put to use in the grim task of identifying victims of the storm and preparing their remains for a final return to their families. The chips are being either implanted under the skin or enclosed in the victim's body bag, according to the news report.

The chips, along with the scanners to read them, have been donated by Applied Digital, of Delray Beach, Fla., to the coroner's offices of Harrison and Lafayette Counties, Miss., under auspices of the U.S. Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT).

(Applied Digital has also lent a mobile clinic to the state's Department of Health to aid in emergency healthcare services for survivors. And they have offered officials in Louisiana the same help as that provided Mississippi, according to a company statement.)

The company's VeriChip technology has been approved for use in humans but has not been used in a morgue setting before now. It seems to be helping technicians perform their jobs more efficiently, the news report suggests.

Applied Digital's CEO, Scott R. Silverman, said: "The VeriChip was designed for emergency care situations and secure identification. Although its primary application is to access and retrieve medical records in an emergency and clinical environment, there are clear uses for our technology in disaster management. As future disaster management plans are re-organized after this disaster, we intend to offer VeriChip and all of our identification technologies to disaster management experts, DMORT, and the federal government."

We applaud them.

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