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-By Don M. McNulty

Owning or Managing a Crime and Trauma Scene Cleanup (CTS) Company is an exciting line of work; it takes a unique person to work in this industry. However, I’m not sure exciting is the correct word to explain your feelings as you are called to a scene. Perhaps in the beginning — like any other job — the first few could cause excitement, as most would define the word. Still, the word stimulation might fit better as the weeks, months, and years pass.

Almost every traumatic death scene has a mystique because the public doesn’t see these scenes often, nor do they want to. As we approach the job site, the technician’s adrenalin runs high as you speculate about what you’ll see, hear, and touch.

When a position for a new technician becomes available, we will receive inquiries from three different varieties of candidates.

Hazmat Cleaning Crime Scene CleanersThe following might Surprise You.

The first will be the thrill seeker who has a macabre curiosity about the work and the scenes. Once they have fulfilled their curiosity, they’re on to other adventures. But unfortunately, we find their sense of privacy isn’t what it should be as they want to brag about what they’ve seen and done.

Another type of person is a medical worker of sorts. It might be anyone from a nurse, CNA, EMT, or hospital environmental worker. The medical worker may or may not be the correct candidate for the job because we would look for added skill-sets like the following.

The last classification is someone who has construction experience. Again, the skills we’re after do not mean a professional contractor per se, but someone who has a basic knowledge of built structures and the skill-sets of working with the tools a contractor would use.

Since we are working in a biohazard environment with human blood and tissue deposits strewn around a room (s), or some microbial contamination, most people think that medical experience is an essential skill to have. Although your assumption wouldn’t be wrong, medical education and how to keep yourself safe in a biohazard area are the easiest parts to teach. It’s easier because we’re not taking personal care of human beings as they would within the medical setting.

Bio Cleaning Services of America was the first company dedicated to this work in the early days. The owner couldn’t think of an appropriate name, but when the victim’s families regularly called for help, they would say, we need help to clean this up. Thus, the word cleaning stuck in the name of what we do.
There is one last point I want you to consider. I usually ask, why do you want to be a Bio Technician? Quite a few candidates will tell me they want to help people and believe they can do the work because they watch True Crime and various horror movies. But, of course, none of that makes them sick. But they are speaking only to the visual. On a job site, all the senses are active — the emotional, visual, auditory, touch, and smell. So, if potent odors make you feel sick to your stomach, you’re probably the wrong candidate.

Looking at Examples of Our Work

We do indeed clean many items if possible. Still, cleaning is often impossible, so we deconstruct and rebuild those affected areas.

We describe our work as like an onion. We peel back the first layer to see if the damage went further. If it has, we remove the next layer until we find the damage’s end. For example, the damage may cause us to remove flooring and sub-flooring. Likewise, we will remove the ceiling if there is a room with a ceiling below. Next, we examine and determine damage on the floor joists and whether we will have to remove contaminated material from those structures.

Blood moves similarly to water. If there is a large pool of blood, it will often move sideways until it can seep through below, and it only needs a crack the width of a piece of copy paper. For example, the blood may travel under walls to an adjacent room or closet space. In these cases, we are removing sheetrock or plaster wall material. Removing the sill plate may become necessary if it bears contamination. If the contaminate runs under the sill plate area under the standing wall studs, we need to know if that wall is a load-bearing wall. If so, other work must be completed to shore up the load-bearing wall before we remove any load-bearing structure.

Having building construction knowledge lets the technician know how deep they will set the skill saw or how to know if there are electrical wires or plumbing inside a wall cavity near their work area. Those utilities travel differently in a commercial-built building than in a residential structure. So, the hardest part of us to teach would be the construction skills and basic knowledge. Everything else we can teach easily.

Other aspects of the work we teach our technicians.

Most of the regulations guiding our work are from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The three principal regulations are,

  • Bloodborne Pathogen Rule 1910.1030,
  • Respiratory Rule 1910.134,
  • Right to Know Rule for Hazardous Materials 1910.1200.
  • However, several other OSHA regulations guide our work. If you want to look at those, go to the website.
  • Those regulations are,
  • Scaffolds and ladders.
  • Care and Use of Tools,
  • Electrical Safety,
  • Work Surfaces,
  • Fall Protection,
  • Confined Space, and the

Wet Bulb Global Temperature Guideline — for working safely under extreme weather.
Heat exhaustion is a big problem for crime scene bio technicians since they often work in level 3 PPE, which means no exposed skin. I once had a young lady keep asking me to hire her. She had these qualifications. During my interview with her in her office, she mentioned being heat sensitive. I expressed my concern and asked for a favor. She also mentioned she worked out four nights a week. I gave her a bio coverall we wore and asked her to work out in the coverall for 30 minutes. If she could do that, I would hire her. I never heard from her until the day we were called back to the apartment building she managed. She gestured for me to come into her office when she saw me.

I guess you’re wondering why I never called you back.

I replied, no, ma’am, I figured you didn’t pass the endurance test.

She said excitedly; she could only work out for 10 minutes, stopped for the entire evening, and went home.

We also train our technicians in epidemiology — the study of how diseases transfer to humans, how to prevent contamination of the bio technician, and how to prevent cross-contamination to other areas of the structure. Suppose you read other articles on this subject — you may read the other writers calling the technician — a Forensic Technician. A Bio Technician and a Forensic Technician are semantics that carry the same meaning.
The growing knowledge base obtained by the Bio Technician includes Lead Abatement Certification and Asbestos Regulations. Every Bio Technician should have their Lead Abatement Certification, but few Crime Scene Clean Up Companies perform Asbestos Abatement. However, knowing when asbestos may be part of the scene is necessary. A testing company is called to test the structure for asbestos contamination. Indeed, some states require asbestos testing before any work is done.

Now you know why a CTS Bio Technician needs the skill-sets of a construction worker.

Trauma-based work is not all we perform. The other work we do is sewage removal, pigeon contamination, hoarder houses, bat guano, disinfection services, vehicles of every sort, and deodorization — just about any remediation that others will not perform.

Bio-Technicians need the temperament of a social worker or minister when dealing with the family, a high sense of morality, and honesty. Those are the qualities of the person we seek. This work is never “just a job.” Even if the job would start that way in someone’s mind, it soon changes after they understand how their work positively impacts the families and communities we serve.

If you have questions regarding our blog posts, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Also, let us know if you have any
suggestions on what you would like to see discussed in our blog format. Contact me by email at I’ll be
happy to entertain any suggestion.