Everyday thousands of first responders are called to trauma scenes and face many unknown hazards. Biohazard cleaners are committed to working together with law enforcement to help ensure their safety as well as anyone else who may come in contact with a hazardous scene. Hazmat cleanup is an important job that is delicate in nature and cannot be handled by just anyone. forensic cleaners are trained professionals who come in and deal with the aftermath of a hazardous event. crime scene cleaners specialize in cleaning homes, businesses and vehicles after a tragic event takes place. Situations that call for a forensic cleaner include, but are not limited to: homicide, suicide, blood, tear gas and drug or meth lab cleanup.
hazardous material cleaners are often referred to as “second responders” as they come in after the legal and medical professionals, or first responders, have finished their job. Hazardous materials removal professionals must possess some very important qualities in order to perform the job in the most efficient way possible. In most states, it is not required that they have a degree or certification, however, there is a lot of training involved. Even though no official degree is required, there are still many attributes a person must have to be successful in this career including:
Compassion – First and foremost, the individuals coming into a crime scene need to have compassion for the victims of the bio hazardous event whether it be family, friends or co-workers. The victims of the event will be looking to the cleanup professional to treat them with the utmost kindness and compassion in a time of great worry, despair and grief.
Training – As previously mentioned, there is no formal degree for trauma scene cleanup however, some training is required. Dealing with biohazard waste is a delicate and potentially harmful job that needs to be handled with the utmost care and attention to detail. Much of the training required will be in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as this will protect the individual from any hazardous materials they may encounter while on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires interested individuals to complete and pass a bloodborne pathogen training course. Differing employers and/or states may have other additional training requirements.
Endurance – Aftermath cleanup requires long hours, wearing lots of protective clothing-including respirators and multiple sets of gloves. Hazmat removal professionals are expected to withstand long working hours of tedious work all while ensuring the health and safety of themselves and people around them.
Attention to detail – Dealing with hazardous materials is serious business. If an aftermath scene is not cleaned with precision and attention to detail, there are serious risks for anyone who enters the premises. It is vital that all safety and cleaning procedures are followed correctly.
Integrity – forensic cleaners are trusted professionals who are welcomed into people’s homes and businesses. Aftermath cleaners must be trustworthy and hold themselves to a high level of integrity.
How Do Hazmat Cleanup Technicians Differ from Other Cleaners?
Crime scene cleaners do much more than just clean, they completely sanitize and decontaminate the scene. Aftermath cleanup specialists also have access to cleaning chemicals specific to biohazard situations. Hazardous materials removal requires copious attention to detail and training for a variety of situations.
Biohazard Situations That Require Crime Scene Cleanup
Suicide or death cleanup. The main concern with suicide or death cleanup is blood. Blood cleanup is tedious work. Most people do not realize the extent to which blood can seep into a homes walls and floors. Blood left behind at a crime scene can cause major health and wellness issues for any future occupants. Bloodborne pathogens such as HIV or Hepatitis can remain active and present on surfaces long after the visible blood has been cleaned up. Some surfaces will not be able to be fully cleansed of the blood and may have to be removed from the scene completely such as rugs.
Meth and Drug Lab Cleanup
Meth labs provide a unique and often more dangerous situation than some other aftermath scenarios. Meth labs are filled with highly toxic chemicals. Fire and explosions pose an immediate risk in meth labs due to the chemicals being used. Proper safety and cleanup of a meth or drug lab is essential as contact with the area can cause coughing, nausea, dizziness, chemical burns or even death. There are several ways to be exposed to the dangerous chemicals present in a meth lab including inhalation, absorption through the skin or even ingestion.
Besides the chemical dangers associated with meth labs, there are also booby traps that need to be considered. Individuals who run meth labs often take steps to protect their inventory, including the use of booby traps. First responders often report finding things like gasoline-filled light bulbs that will ignite at the flip of a switch. They have seen hidden trip wires that are connected to tear gas grenades and even explosive devices that are packed with broken glass. Due to these outrageously dangerous situations, it is vital that these scenes are approached with utmost caution and are entered only when the scene has been cleared by the first responders. After the first responders have done their job, aftermath clean up can begin slowly and tediously.
Medical Waste Removal
This involves removing hazardous medical waste from a scene and fully cleaning and decontaminating the area. Medical waste can present many hazardous situations and must be handled with expert care and knowledge.
Tear Gas Cleanup
This type of hazardous materials removal is complex and very labor intensive. The scene of a tear gas incident usually includes damaged walls, broken windows, stained carpeting and a thick residue left on everything. Tear gas can seep into almost anything including: walls, carpeting and furniture. Tear gas has the ability to irritate the mucous membranes of anyone living in or visiting the scene long after the incident occurred. For this reason, it is vital that professional aftermath cleaners are called in to decontaminate the entire scene correctly and thoroughly. Trained trauma scene cleaners use state-of-the-art technology and equipment to meticulously remove all instances of the biohazard trauma.
How Long Can Certain Biohazards Survive on a Surface? We Break Four of the Top Diseases That Can Be Found at a Crime Scene.
- H1N1 as known as the swine flu. In August 2010, the swine flu was deemed a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) after it began surfacing in 2009. The outbreak affected millions of people all across the globe. H1N1 can survive outside the body for 2-8 hours.
- Norovirus or stomach flu affects upwards of 20 million people in the United States each year and is credited for over 800 deaths per year. Most of the deaths associated with Norovirus are children and the elderly as they have weaker immune systems and ability to fight off viruses. Norovirus can survive outside of the body for days, even weeks.
- MRSA is a form of a staph infection. MRSA is known for starting as small bumps on the skin and resulting in large abscesses. MRSA is highly contagious and can be life threatening to affected individuals. Like Norovirus, MRSA can survive outside of the body for days or weeks.
- Hepatitis, which includes five unique strands. Each strand is different, but they all contribute to liver disease. Hepatitis C by itself affects over 2.7 million people according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis can survive outside of the body for up to three weeks.
Today, our world is more connected than ever making the outbreak and spread of disease that much more likely and dangerous. It is absolutely vital that hazmat cleanup be handled by trained professionals only to prevent the risks associated with the spreading of diseases.
What can you do to help stop the spread of disease? First, do not touch a biohazard scene unless you are a trained forensic cleaner. Do not put yourself or anyone else in unnecessary risk by not following this basic rule. Besides not coming in direct contact with a known hazardous scene, it is important to be mindful of any surface and the potential it has for containing the germs that spread disease. Your first defense is to wash your hands thoroughly and often with hot soapy water. You would be amazed and disgusted at the contamination level of everyday surfaces you come in contact with.
If you come upon a crime scene, or your home, or business is the site of one, do not touch anything. Contact the authorities and first responders first thing and you can be sure that the second responders will be close behind to clean up the mess. Trust in their ability to not only clean up the hazardous mess, but that they will do so with care and compassion for those left behind. We understand the delicate nature of their work and are committed to providing the best service possible.