In the funeral home where I worked, we serviced a large U.S. City and all of the metro area within about 30 miles of the core of the city itself. This meant that there were several calls a day to come and pick up the deceased at hospitals, nursing homes, the city morgue, and private residences. When a call came in, the upstairs offices at the funeral home would answer the phone and complete a “first call” sheet. This sheet would have most of the information needed for us to know who we were picking up, where, and what the arrangements were to include.
The ladies upstairs would print out directions to the location of the deceased and send them, along with the first call sheet to me. I would then jump in the van and head out. If it were a routine location like nursing home, hospital, or city morgue – I would not require directions. If it were a private residence, i would require directions.
Before leaving the parking lot of the funeral home, I would write on the ankle tag with a sharpie marker the deceased last name and the ID number assigned to them on the first call sheet. This way, as soon as I arrived, I could place the ankle tag around their ankle so that I would not forget who they were and so they could always be identified from then on. The ankle tags were made to where they could not be removed or tampered with. The only way to remove it would be to cut off the foot at the ankle. That would be someone desperate to hide something!
The first call sheet would accompany the body back to the funeral home prep room, where the deceased would be logged in and stripped of their clothing and personal effects. These items would be placed in a safe until they could be handed over to the funeral director, who would get the items back to the family. The body would then be rolled into the cooler until it was time for embalming (if embalming was to be done on them). Sometimes the body would go right to the embalming table if there were no others tobe embalmed. This was rarely the case. On any given day there would be anywhere form 5-8 bodies come through our prep room doors. Dead bodies, that is. So we were very busy.
The first call sheet went in a log book, and eventually made it back to the office where it originated. Copies were made and sent to the appropriate departments. The cemeteries also worked off of the first call sheets.