Not many are familiar with the profession of crime scene cleaning until tragedy hits, and they have to handle the unimaginable. That’s when they rely on a group of strong-stomached, brave-hearted professionals known as trauma cleaners, biohazard remediation specialists or just crime scene cleaners.
Until a few decades ago, the task of cleaning up after the death of a loved one fell on family and friends, potentially adding to the emotional trauma and stress of an already tragic event. However, in recent years companies have been formed to tackle the whole problem, specializing in the removal and disposal of blood, bodily fluids and other biohazard materials. Today the biohazard cleaning industry has seen huge growth with more and more companies getting into this field. Here’s what these brave heroes want to share with the world about their work.
1. It’s not just about crime scenes
When one thinks of a crime scene, the picture painted in the mind is that of police, investigators and ambulance. In reality, a very small percentage of calls received by these companies from families, business owners, hotel managers, tenants are due to a major crime. A majority of events that professional crime scene cleaners deal with are scenarios of unattended natural death and suicide. Apart from tragic events like murder and suicide, crime scene cleaners also handle the cleanup of other biohazard events.
2. Ex-military or law enforcement background
Many of the professional crime scene cleaners are military veterans, police or other members of law enforcement and paramedic. Being exposed to death, a chaotic environment, emotional stress, all provide valuable experience in the emotional and physical challenges involved in a crime scene cleanup and other biohazard situations. Integrity and focus are traits of crime scene cleaners coming from different walks of life.
3. Death cleanup goes beyond blood and body fluid removal
A site where a murder has taken place or an unattended body is found, alongside blood and bodily fluids there are strong unpleasant odours that have been absorbed by furniture, linens, carpets, subfloors, walls and other personal belongings. What may be noticeable may actually be just the tip of the iceberg, for example, a tiny bloodstain on a carpet. There are situations where the blood and body fluids have seeped into the floor below.
4. Extraordinary cleaning supplies
Cleaning up blood, body fragments, bodily fluids and other materials in the wake of a brutal or unattended death takes more than regular bleach and rigorous cleaning. Crime scene cleaners begin the cleaning process by first detecting each and every spot, splatter and fragments. They use special detection chemicals to identify bodily fluids and enzymes to remove brain matter. When it comes to situations where fluids have seeped into drywalls or floorboards and other structural elements, they may need to be removed. To do this they employ heavy equipment like sledgehammers, saws and crowbars. Even furniture items are dismantled to remove contaminants that have seeped in.
5. Saying goodbye to horrible smells
Another challenge for crime scene cleaners is the smell of death. While some professional cleaners may get used to smelling strong awful odours the smell of body decomposition is unimaginable. Every biohazard remediation specialist has to wear personal protective equipment before entering the site to stay protected from blood and airborne pathogens, but it can be difficult to ward off a quick waft every now and then. To remove strong toxic odours and deodorize the home, crime scene cleaners use HEPA filters, ozone machines, foggers, air scrubbers and other odour removal supplies.
6. Quite a high turnover rate
Even the worst cleanup doesn’t match up to the emotional stress of working with mourning families or sighting the violence people impose on each other. This industry witnesses a pretty high turnover rate with technicians moving in and out of jobs. The psychological toll on crime scene cleaners in the whole cleaning process is quite immense. This is why most employees, and even owners, don’t last in the industry that long.
7. Not just good cleaners but also good counsellors
As every person has a different way of dealing with grief, a crime scene cleaning specialist has to be trained and be ready for all kinds of human interaction. In most situations, it’s the senior or owner who deals with the grieving family and friends which means listening to every detail they have to share or protecting them from glimpsing the worst. Usually, customers vent their overwhelming emotions after experiencing tragic events and crime scene cleanup technicians have to talk with them, console them and make them feel better in the best way possible. These techs are not just cleaners but compassionate workers who are there to support the ones hurting throughout the process.
8. Psychological toll may call for help sometimes
Experienced crime scene cleaning professionals, as well as owners, talk about the importance of keeping a separation between their job and personal lives. Yet, not everyone is capable of leaving work stress at workplace before heading out for the way. Many of the professionals attend counselling sessions to feel relieved from stress. After all, even the strong-minded people can experience weak moments.
9. Keeping it light
Crime scene cleaning pros have to find a way to work amidst all emotions. They chat with other techs at the site and crack a few jokes to keep them going in a tense environment. But at the same time, they are extremely careful with their words especially when the family is present at the cleanup site, as they do not want to worsen their pain. They will work as quietly as possible and if required use body language and signs to communicate with one another.
10. Help in difficult times
Crime scene cleaners take immense satisfaction in what they do. In spite of all the gore, odours, and the distress, these techs find great reward in helping others in their difficult times. There is no better feeling for crime scene cleaning pros than when they receive a thank you from their customers for helping them on the worst day of their lives.
Ever find yourself in need of a Crime Scene Cleanup, contact Biosite Cleanup. Biosite Cleanup, NSW’s best crime scene cleaners, are a team of qualified, well-equipped, and experienced biohazard cleaning professionals that handle crime scene cleanup of all types. We are always there to lend a helping hand.