Crime scene officers are often called to scenes of serious trauma or death. Their job is to systematically document and process every aspect of the scene. This includes photographing and diagramming the scene, writing up detailed reports, and processing and collecting evidence. After completing these tasks, most officers don’t give the scene another thought. But what happens next? Someone has to deal with the blood and any other biohazards left at the scene. Understanding what happens after CSOs leave the scene can help you do your job better and also help those who need it most: the victims and the people left behind.
In recent years, a number of crime scene clean up companies have sprung up. While some companies simply offer cleaning and removal, others offer a complete range of services including property restoration, assistance with insurance claims, and referrals to counselors and other professionals. To help provide a clearer understanding of crime scene clean up and its importance to law enforcement, I spoke with experts from Biotrauma, Inc., a firm out of Georgia that also serves Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky and Mississippi. Ryan Sawyer, President and Director of Marketing and Sales for Biotrauma, began the business after serving in Iraq with Mortuary Affairs. David Walker, Crew Supervisor for Biotrauma, previously worked for Clorox. Biotrauma offers a full range of services to their clients and specializes in thorough, professional service completed in a discreet, respectful manner.
According to Sawyer, 80% of victims or their families clean up after a homicide, suicide, trauma, or situations involving decomposing bodies and other biological hazards because they don’t know that professional services are available. Having victims or their families or employees (in the case of a corporate incident) perform this work is usually less than ideal. First, these situations can involve many physical hazards. Of primary concern are bloodborne and air-borne pathogens such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis A-E, etc. Sharp objects such as tack strips, nails, and hypodermic needles can also pose a risk.
Without the proper training, individuals attempting a clean up could contract a serious illness or injury. Professionals such as those with Biotrauma, on the other hand, have extensive training in handling and removing these hazards and understand the state and federal regulations governing biohazards and their clean up and removal. As Walker explains, when the Biotrauma crew arrives on the scene, they begin by taking a detailed history so they are aware of any specific illnesses or concerns. But in all cases, they approach the scene with the attitude of “protect everyone from everything.” They also come prepared with personal protective equipment (ppe) that includes regulated gowns, face masks and shields, and disposable double gloves and double boots taped to the body for further protection. In addition, they use EPA regulated, hospital grade disinfectants and remediate to the lowest point of saturation. When they complete their work, they can provide a certificate of treatment, which offers assurance to the current and future occupants of the site that it has been restored to a safe standard.