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Delivering the Dead

Malverne resident Tom Malone performs an unglamorous yet necessary job for Nassau County.

The general public is fascinated with the glamorous lives of the rich and famous, but there are some aspects of society that aren't so pretty.

Who really wants to know what happens after we flush our toilets or haul our trash to the curb? It's gone, it's out of our lives, it's someone else's problem now.

Still, every day there are people who handle the parts of life most of us would rather not think. One such person is Malverne resident Tom Malone. Malone works for the Nassau County Police Department's Emergency Ambulance Bureau, in conjunction with the Medical Examiner's Office. Anyone who's seen an episode of CSI: NY or Quincy, M.E. knows that the M.E.’s Office deals with dead bodies.

Not so glamorous.

In short, Malone's job is to retrieve cadavers the M.E. wants to see and deliver them to the morgue. Generally these bodies are victims of homicide, suicide, unexplained deaths and unattended deaths, such as an elderly person who is found dead after not having been seen for a few days.

Malone works three, 12-hours tours a week. The body count is generally one or two a week but there have been nights when he's had as many as four or five. When there are no pick-ups to be made, Malone assists at Medical Control, the radio room for all ambulances in Nassau County, including volunteers.

The morgue truck - the vehicle Malone uses to pickup and deliver bodies - is a plain, white van with no indication of its use other than the Nassau County seals on either side and the rear. He’s one of four operators on staff and one must always be on the clock, 24 hours per day.

A native of Lynbrook, Malone attended Our Lady of Lourdes and the public schools in Malverne. He joined the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps' Youth Squad at age 14, passed the Emergency Medical Technician's test at 18 and after volunteering with MVAC for over 20 years he eventually became an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician.

Nassau County hired him in 1984 and he spent 18 years in an ambulance until an injury on the job forced him to work in the radio room for the next seven. He married Malvernite Michele Varrichio in 1988 and moved to the village, where they have raised their three children.

Then, "this opportunity came along and I took it," said Malone. "I'm very happy in my career path…It just feels right."

If someone dies at home, it’s Malone who often has direct contact with the family members during these emotional and stressful times. He lets them know that their loved ones will be taken care of, even in death.

When he tells new acquaintances what he does, he says the reaction is generally, "'Huh. I guess somebody has to do it.'"

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