Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home
Police officers and other emergency response personnel have the unpleasant task of working with the dead. They’re the first responders—the life-savers and the crime-solvers. But when their job is done they go about their duties of finding new lives to save, and new criminals to apprehend. The crime scenes, however, are left behind, as is, with blood, tissue, brain matter, and other such macabre tid-bits left lying around.
Someone has to clean up the mess, and the police certainly aren’t going to do it. That’s where companies like AFTERMATH, INC. of Oswego, Illinois, and Crime Scene Steri-Clean of Southern California come in.
Crime scene clean-up companies employ teams of highly-trained employees who come to the scene of a homicide, suicide, etc., and clean up and decontaminate every single surface in the affected areas. They completely remove all body matter from the scene. They’re also trained to clean up fingerprint powder, tear gas residue, and odors associated with decomposition.
All body fluids are considered biohazard waste and must be treated accordingly, as potential sources of infection. Crime scene clean up companies must have all the required permits required by law to transport and dispose of hazardous waste.
These companies have on-call staff members who are required to respond to a scene within a reasonable amount of time, usually within minutes if the scene is located in the company’s home territory.
The costs associated with cleaning up a crime scene can be costly, but many homeowner’s policies will cover much of the expense. Some states will absorb some of the clean-up costs for homicide cases. Crime Scene Steri-Clean promises to work with any budget, stating they’ll accept payments as little as one dollar per month if that’s all the victim’s family can afford.
All of AFTERMATH’s vehicles (they have offices all across the country) are certified by the EPA to haul medical waste. Their technicians are all blood-born pathogen certified. FYI – Many police academies require police officers to undergo blood-born pathogen training.
Some of the equipment used by crime scene clean up companies:
– non-porous disposable suits, gloves, respirators, and spill proof boots
– ozone machines for odor removal
– bleach and other disinfectants
– enzyme solvents to kill bacteria and viruses
– wet vac
– scrapers for removal of brain matter and tissue
– steam injection systems to soften dried matter
– standard tools, such as hammer, screwdrivers, shovels (snow shovels for large amounts of wet tissue)
*These clean up companies are not in all locations, and not everyone uses them in the locations where they are available.
* For an interesting read about crime scene cleanup, I recommend:
Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home
by Gil Reavill
You’re right, Kaye. It is usually the homeowner’s responsibility to hire a clean-up crew.
I always wondered what happened after the fact. The police come, the Coroners come, CSI comes, but I never knew who came after that or there was somebody to clean up when everybody was done. This was nice to know. Thanks.
I wish someone would have cleaned up the fingerprint power in my house! It was *only* a burglary (of just about everything we owned), but they left powder everywhere. Maybe this is something new, or maybe it’s not done in Texas. That wouldn’t surprise me. 🙂 I thought people had to hire their own company to clean up after a homocide, too, but maybe that’s dated (or Texas only) info. I have seen ads for those companies.
You’ve got me thinking about my current ms, Lee. I have a character move into a house where someone was murdered. That’s probably not such a good idea. I see a rewrite in my future.
By the way, I read Aftermath (after I learned about it here, I believe). Very insightful. I highly recommend it to writers of crime fiction.
We have a great many people in southern Georgia who are migratory, that is, they live in the northeast/midwest during the warmer climes and come down here between Thanksgiving and New Years to rid out the winter.
One of these “migrants”, my friend Mary, owns a house two blocks away from us that was broken into by vandals one summer. They spray painted the walls and made a huge mess. Our local cops came in and fingerprinted every surface in the house – and left the fingerprint dust everywhere.
Well-intentioned, my mom went over there to clean it up with a damp cloth, because she didn’t want Mary to have to deal with that too, and she created an even bigger mess. Not knowing the correct procedure, I tried to help using my chemistry background and knowledge of solvents, but the black gunk was stuck everywhere.
Its a big deal to clean up after CSI even for a small case like this. And you can make things worse if you don’t know what you are doing. I highly recommend getting professional help or searching for the correct cleaning technique and supplies.
Our coroner’s office, as part of their victim/family support, makes sure that they provide contact information for the companies in our area that do this type of clean up.
I have to teach BBP to all of my medical students, but the following sentence is the thing that sticks with them, even after reading the book, watching the video, and taking the test. As far as blood-borne pathogen training, I can sum up the entire eight hours worth of training: “If it’s warm and wet and not yours, don’t touch it!”. After they take a minute to digest it, there’s lots of “ews” and “gross”, but they agree. Of course, being in medicine, they have to touch it, but they won’t do it bare-handed. Ever.
I wonder how the local housekeeping companies handle human tissue, bone, and body fluids?
Some towns hire the local housecleaning companies. In some areas, there are crews that bid on the jobs.
Thanks for this post, Lee. I was actually considering writing a novel about a crime scene cleanup company. This helps.