Medical examiners fight exhaustion, fear

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Matthew LaPlante takes a look at the toll that violence is having on staff at the medical examiner's office with On El Salvador’s near-bloodiest day, medical examiners fight exhaustion, fear.
Like almost everyone else in the institute, Martinez is at first stoic about the damage this impossible situation is having on her own psyche. “We are professionals and this is a job that we simply must do,” she said.
But as she thumbs through a 6-inch stack of autopsy reports that she says prosecutors sometimes don’t even have time to look at, her voice breaks.
“We are working here as a maquila,” she said, using the Spanish word for sweatshop. “We are witnesses to carnage. We are overwhelmed.”
Even for people used to dealing with death, it is impossible to remain unaffected, said Dr. Alfredo Adolfo Romero Diaz. The killers, he said, seem to have gotten more and more nihilistic in recent years. “You can kill a person with only one, two or three stabs,” he said, “but we have seen corpses with hundreds of stabs wounds — not random but very meticulously placed.”
I provide some historical context at the end of the article but the story is really about the psychological and emotional toll that the violence in El Salvador is having on professionals working in the field.