USA DECON                       
 

Houston  713-850-0555     Dallas  214-350-8100     Corpus Christi  361-850-8100 

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The leader in Biohazard removal and cleaning in Texas

 
 

Crime, Trauma, Death Scene Cleaners

 
 

USA DECON articles and interviews


Houston  Press                             

The new American Gothic  Photo by Daniel Kramer

 

Without a Trace

 

Houston Press         

The Grim Sweepers

Could you handle it?

      

 

The Police
News                     

Who cleans the crime scenes?

Not the house maid

 

Angie's List, October 2009  www.angieslist.com

http://magazine.angieslist.com/articles/2009/october/biohazard-remediation-process.aspx

 

NBC News   

http://www.nbcactionnews.com/dpp/money/angies_list/Companies-tackle-mess-a-corpse-can-leave-behind_07666104

 

Fox News 26 Houston - Dangers of former Meth Lab homes.  By Isiah Carey

 

Jan. 8, 2007, 3:16PM
Police agencies rely on niche businesses to mop up scenes
Law enforcement officials say violent crime locations call for special clean teams

HOUSTON CRIME SCENE CLEANING COMPANIES

 

USA Decon: 713-850-0555, www.usadecon.net www.usadecon.com

CRIME SCENE TIMELINE


The following represents a basic timeline of events to show how crime scene cleanup crews play a role in working with local law enforcement.

•A woman is shot in her upstairs apartment after a fight with her boyfriend.

•Police officers, detectives and crime scene units arrive to interview, collect evidence and make arrests.

•The medical examiner must give approval after examining the body for it to be moved. Once police have finished, a funeral home or the medical examiner takes the body away.

•Once the scene has cleared, the crime scene cleanup crews begin their jobs. Depending on where the body was, how much blood was lost and if any furniture, carpet or walls need to be cleaned, the job can become quite extensive. After the scene is cleaned, no evidence of the crime remains.

When the police finish a crime scene investigation, it's only the beginning.

The aftermath of a violent crime or suicide is often the last thing on any grieving family's mind. But when the constant stream of deputies and investigators finally finish an investigation, the remnants and stains from the incident are left on the carpet, walls and furniture.

Law enforcement and funeral homes will remove a body, but the scene is left intact for someone else to clean up. That's where Houston-based companies like USA Decon and Red Alert Bio-Response Service Inc. come in. These companies, and a growing number like them, fulfill an overlooked service in Montgomery County and around Greater Houston.

Robert Demaret, chief operating officer for USA Decon, served as a deputy sheriff in Nueces County for five years before starting his business with John DiGulio, chief executive officer. He said most people "just don't know" what services are available to them.

"People would ask, 'Who is going to (clean) this for us?' We would say 'Now, ma'am, it's not our job,' " Demaret said. "Next thing they know, in the blink of an eye, everyone's gone, and they've got a mess. It's definitely a business where you're hard to be found and really nobody ever wants to find you."

Helping families

Montgomery County sheriff's deputies carry information sheets in their cars with four listings of crime scene cleanup companies, said Sally Anderson, crime victim officer for the department. While the department cannot recommend a company, they provide families with all the information needed. Anderson said a majority do not use it.

"That would traumatize me to clean up a crime scene in my own house," she said. "Some families do that, but it's pretty much their call. The resources are made available, but it's their call to use it."

Lt. Russell Reynolds of the Conroe Police Department criminal investigations said when police leave the scene, "everything else just stays behind." While funeral homes will collect the body in Conroe and all evidence is transported to a forensic center, the families are left to take care of the scene and crime scene companies are a good option.

"I think a lot depends on how bad the scenes are. Some of the scenes we've had are a lot more than the family can deal with," he said. "(Cleaning companies) definitely serve a very good and worthwhile purpose out there. They can save the family a lot of problems and particularly at a time when the family is dealing with a crisis, with funeral arrangements and family. It's probably the last thing they need to be dealing with."

Helping others

Rodrigo Vargas started Red Alert Bio-Response Service Inc. after a family member committed suicide 10 years ago, and they wound up cleaning the scene.

"There was nobody at that time that we could find," he said. "That's how we got started. It hit pretty close to home. We figured that people were going through what we went through at that time, and we wanted to try to help people going through that same situation."

Besides cleaning violent crime, suicide and natural death scenes, Red Alert and USA Decon will take care of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories, animal decay, mold, asbestos, fire and water damage.

"We take care of anything that somebody else doesn't want to mess with," Vargas said.

Emotional moments

As death never takes a holiday, calls roll in night and day. While families can clean the scenes themselves, Demaret said cleaning companies can spare families the emotional fallout.

"Why put them through the mental aguish when they could hire us and spare themselves the traumatic scene?" he said. "You don't want to see this. I won't say we've seen it all, but we've seen a lot. We're not emotionally attached, but we're sympathetic."

Demaret said speaking with the family is harder for him than actually cleaning the scene because there is nothing he can say or do to change what happened.

"I think suicides are worse than homicides," he said. "If somebody breaks in and kills Mama, you can be mad at that guy. When it's suicide, you don't have that option to be mad at somebody."

Even in such a state of distress, Vargas said families are glad to let someone handle the situation.

"It's something that you have to prepare yourself psychologically and professionally and train yourself for," he said. "You have to have proper equipment and be able to deal with the victim's family or the persons involved. It's difficult. We tell people to wait until we're done, but they want to see. They may regret it later, but they want to see."

Proper disposal

While alleviating the family's trauma is an important component, cleaning companies also haul away and cleanse scenes of bodily fluids and tissue, which are biohazards and need to be properly destroyed. Demaret said while there are federal laws to regulate how biohazardous material is cleaned, enforcement is limited to local health officials and first responders.

"Our biggest problem is there are laws and standards in place, but nobody enforces them," he said.

If a murder is committed in a suburban home, the family can choose to clean the area themselves and could discard bodily materials in a bag and leave it for trash pickup. Animals and insects are attracted to the waste and could spread disease. If a sanitation worker picks it up with a cut on his hand, he could contract hepatitis or HIV.

"It only amplifies the risk when not disposed of properly," DiGulio said. "Think of the most disgusting environment imaginable."

DiGulio said all waste is contained in specially labeled boxes and shipped to a plant for incineration. A Global Positioning System is used to track which landfill the ashes are transported to and where they are dumped. Meticulate records are kept of exact locations, including depth, time and date of the ashes' arrival and placement. If there is any question of the biowaste's whereabouts, these records can pinpoint disposal and certify everything was done aboveboard.

Moving on

A family's efforts can easily escalate into creating a greater biohazard than the original death created.

"We did a job for an apartment complex, a natural death that died on the couch," Demaret said. "It had been there a few weeks. The family took the couch they were sitting on and shoved it out in the parking lot. It was a stink you cannot imagine with flies and maggots. They took the carpets and put them in the Dumpster. Now there were three areas of contamination instead of one. There were kids walking within 5 to 8 feet of this couch."

What makes wading through mountains of trash, cleaning blood and fluids off the floor and enduring a constant pungent stench bearable, Vargas said, is the impact his company makes on people's lives.

"I'm helping somebody, providing a service to spare somebody from a very, very emotional and tough situation," he said.

"It usually is a person that's not trained or has proper equipment to deal with that. A pair of gloves and a mask are not going to do it. I make it easier for them to grieve and try to go on with their lives after the fact."

kimberly stauffer

 

           

 

  

 

 

 

 

Texas Ranger
Magazine                                

Reprint - Who cleans the crime scenes? 

Coming, December 2006

Who Cleans The Crime Scenes?

Not the house maid, that’s for sure.

Breck Porter / Gulf Coast Police News
www.gcpolicenews.com

 

   Cleaning up a crime scene is not a pleasant task and it is not something that typical house cleaning services, maintenance people or other untrained persons should be doing.

   Who would even ask their house maid to mop up after a shooting or knifing where large amounts of human blood had been spilled or splattered all over the walls and ceilings?  What about a place where a suicide had occurred or a person had just died a natural death but had not been discovered for a week or more?  These are the types of calls that are most offensive and unpleasant for police and first responders.

   “We do a lot of suicides and decompositions where they may have laid there for a week or two before they were discovered,” says Robert Demaret, owner of USA DECON, a professional trauma/crime scene remediation company.  “By then all the body fluids have leaked out and they have bloated and sometimes they pop.  Of course when they decompose the odor is a serious problem.”

   Why call companies like USA DECON to do these often sickening jobs?  Federal regulations specifically provide that an employee cannot be placed in a position and be exposed to blood spills with first fulfilling training requirements.  Financial penalties to the employer for the violation of the standard are very severe.

   It is very common for those contemplating suicide to find a place away from their home to do the dirty deed.  Hotel or motel rooms are popular places chosen by many to end their lives.  Some use firearms, others overdose on drugs or take poisons.  After death they may lay in the room for two or three days before being discovered and by then they are “ripe”, to use a term frequently used by those who are dispatched to these scenes.

   “The first thing we do is decontaminate all the biological issues” says Demaret.  “We don’t know the dead person so we treat them all as if they had aids and hepatitis and everything under the sun.

   “We use EPA approved, hospital grade disinfectant and we spray all the body fluids down first so that any virus’ that were in those body fluids are dead.  The body is usually gone when we get there and all that remains are the body fluids.  We clean all that up and deodorize the house.  We have special ozone machines, odor neutralizing chemicals and we use different methods depending on the severity of the case. We remove all the bio hazards and deodorize the premises.

   Demaret continues, “In the case where carpet is contaminated we take it up with the pad.  Often the fluids get into the concrete slab under the carpet pad.  The concrete is porous so we remove what we can and let it dry then reseal the concrete before new carpet is put down.

   We have done second floor apartments where the fluid has actually gone through the floor, through the insulation, through the sheetrock of the ceiling of the downstairs apartment and started dripping from the ceiling.  In that case we must cut the floor out of the upstairs apartment, remove the insulation then cut the sheetrock out of the downstairs apartment and clean the rafters.  We can’t cut the rafters out because they are load bearing, but we clean and decontaminate them and reseal them.  That establishes a physical barrier.

   “We can’t do much for stains but we make sure there are no viruses or disease left the in the area.  We put up a physical barrier and then new sheetrock and carpet can be installed.

   “Unattended deaths where bodies have decomposed comprise about 50% of our work.  Another 40% are suicides where there is also decomposition or a massive blood spill and body fragments, and the remaining 10% are homicides, shootings, stabbings and accidents.

   “We even get calls from department stores and other large stores where a customer may have fallen and busted their head on the corner of a shelf and left blood. Anywhere somebody spills blood is where we go and clean it up.

   “We have done jobs where the deceased person was HIV Positive, but we treat all jobs that way because we can’t afford the luxury of taking that risk.  The clothing that we wear has to be rated for blood born pathogens.  We wear eye protection, splash protection, respiratory protection, two pair of gloves, a full set of coveralls and two pair of booties.  We’re covered from head to toe.  Nothing can get on us.

   “If we are working a suicide that happened only yesterday, our personal protection equipment would be different than if we were working where a body had decomposed for a month or so because we are not dealing with odors.  We have full face respirators that have filters on them that purify the air and reduce the odors that we smell.

   “If apartments or hotels or motels were to send their own maintenance crews in there to do that kind of cleaning, they would be in direct violation of OSHA regulations.  Employee’s must be trained and certified in blood born pathogens and the use of personal protective equipment,” concluded Demaret.

   To learn more about USA DECON call toll free 1-877-627-7458 or visit their website http://www.usadecon.com

 

 

NBC Action News

Companies tackle mess a corpse can leave behind

 
Posted: 04/05/2010

by Staci Giordullo

What happens to those who die alone — and no one notices? Welcome to the business of biohazard remediation. Originally limited to crime and trauma scene cleaning, the industry's scope has grown to include decontamination of homes soiled by human waste, tissue and body fluids, and other toxins associated with a decomposing body.

Biological fluid from a body left unattended for a week
Photos courtesy of USA Decon |
The biological fluid from a body left unattended for a week penetrated the wood floor of a garage apartment. The supports were treated and sealed by a bio-recovery technician.

Ronald Gospodarski, owner of Bio-Recovery Corp. in New York City, started his business in 1988 after spending years as a paramedic and realizing no company was offering these types of services.

"No one is prepared for this type of thing," he says. "I come in and solve the problem."

According to Gospodarski, approximately 75 percent of his business is cleaning up after decompositions.

"I get calls from family, police, landlords — a lot of times it's the property manager," he says.

Stacie Salerno of Bradford, Pa., recently hired Gospodarski to clean her brother's apartment after he was stabbed to death, reportedly by a stranger police believe he likely met online. "I never knew this kind of company even existed," Salerno says. "But they took care of everything. You never would know there was a murder in that apartment."

Like many other industries, the prerequisites to be a bio-recovery technician vary greatly by state. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires proper training in order to handle blood-borne pathogens. In addition, companies should hold the proper permits for biohazard waste disposal as well as general liability and pollution liability insurance.

Dale Cillian, president of the American Bio-Recovery Association, says the lack of a nationwide standard is unnerving because there are companies that grossly overcharge customers and don't thoroughly clean or properly dispose of the waste.

"Some of these companies will rob people blind," Cillian says. "They're hurting families at the worst time of their lives." Gospodarski, who's certified with the ABRA, agrees and says his average job costs between $1,500 and $3,500. "Customers need to do their due diligence before hiring a company like mine," he says.

Industry experts recommend verifying companies with ABRA — which has 80 members — Angie's List and the BBB.

While a coroner typically removes the body before the biohazard remediation team arrives, there are a number of threats left behind — many of which go unnoticed by the untrained eye.

"We see marks of contamination affected during the removal of the body such as fluid from the body bag touching walls and furniture," says John DiGulio, co-founder of USA Decon in Houston. "Light switches and door handles are usually left unclean."

Hiring a professional to clean up such a mess can lift an emotional burden from grieving family members. "There aren't many jobs in which you can provide unimaginable relief for someone," DiGulio says.