For Jessica Martin, the Pulaski County Coroner's office shouldn't be solely focused on the deceased — it should try to help members of the community from coming to an early and unfortunate end.
"I feel like the coroner's office needs more involvement with the community," she said. "It needs to do more preventative education for things like opioid addiction and suicide prevention."
Martin has filed to run for Pulaski County Coroner, a county government office which handles and investigates local deaths. While never having worked previously in a coroner's office, Martin has plenty of experience dealing with those in life-or-death situations.
The 2011 Southwestern High School graduate and lifelong Pulaski County native has worked as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), doing her training with Somerset-Pulaski County EMS and actually serving in that role in McCreary County.
She has an Associates of Science in Nursing degree from Western Kentucky University, and has done correctional nursing. She also plans on obtaining a sexual assault nurse examiner's license and, if elected, will be certified with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, she said.
She's also married to James Martin, chief of the Burnside Fire Department, with four children, and lives in southern Pulaski County.
"I see a lot of future with the coroner's office," she said of her decision to run for the position, currently held by Clyde Strunk, who has also filed for re-election this year.
Talking more about her desire to see more community involvement from the coroner's office, Martin added that they could go into schools and talk to youth in particular. "We've had several suicides in the school districts lately, and I feel like if someone was there for those kids, helping with that, (they might not have happened). ... (We need to) help the community before you get to that point."
It was her work serving as a nurse in a local jail facility that made her particularly sensitive to the risk of overdose deaths from illegal drug use, noted Martin.
"These people need to be talked to (about drug use), because they fear getting out of jail and going back to it," she said. "They need resources to help them overcome that."
As a grant writer, Martin would also try to obtain grants to help with this community push, and her efforts to increase her knowledge about sexual assault victims could help the coroner's office "build better working relationships" with local law enforcement, which usually handles such investigations.
Martin wrote in a statement that an "effective coroner" must "possess not only the competence but also a compassionate presence, especially when delivering the worst news a loved one will ever hear."
The coroner should also fulfill the duties of the office as prescribed by law, ensure that deaths under the coroner's jurisdiction are investigated "competently and with fiscal restraint," and should have knowledge of investigative techniques, critical thinking skills, strong interpersonal skills, and a dedicated staff.
"Passion and a commitment to serve in a field that daily intersects with death and tragedy is of utmost importance," said Martin.