Following Dane County’s decision to switch from having a county coroner to a county medical examiner, the new position was put into action Tuesday as a prominent specialist from New York transitioned into office.

Dr. Vincent Tranchida was appointed to the position after an extended search for qualified candidates.

“It was a nationwide search, and there aren’t that many people qualified to do that work,” Paul Rusk, Dist. 12 supervisor, said.

Tranchida will replace acting Dane County medical examiner Barry Irmen, who was appointed to the position after previous county coroner, Ray Wosepka, passed away last March.

Before Irmen took office, Dane County had to rely on the University of Wisconsin hospital to administer autopsies.

Tranchida joins a staff of 11 coroners who assist at the scene of accidents and work with family members to get bodies to the correct facilities.

“Now we can have someone that not only consoles families, but someone that can also do autopsies,” said Josh Wescott, spokesperson for the county executive.

Rusk said he expects Tranchida’s office to be incredibly busy and perform several hundred autopsies each year. Rusk said Tranchida will also be responsible for working with the University of Wisconsin Hospital to back up their doctors in an effort to keep strong relationships with the hospital’s staff.

Irmen said the county has received excellent service from the hospital’s forensic pathologist in the past, but the switch will save money and provide Dane County citizens with better service from the medical examiner’s office.

Trachinda said he will use his position to work with the surrounding community and with UW.

“My goal is to make our office very available to the university and be a very good reference to students,” Trachinda said.

According to Wisconsin state law, when a population reaches 500,000, a county is required to put a medical examiner into office instead of a county coroner. Following population data obtained last year, it was determined that Dane County needed to make the transition by Jan. 1, 2011.

A medical examiner can perform autopsies whereas a coroner is not qualified to administer the procedure.

Irmen said Dane County’s numbers from the previous census were very close to reaching 500,000, and the change in position would have undoubtedly been necessary in the next term.