Have you ever asked yourself, who is responsible for cleaning up a crime scene once it has been processed? The answer is there are specialized cleanup companies and national organizations that are trained to deal with crime scenes of all types. Most people are not familiar with this type of work, but there are many people involved with crime scene and biohazard cleanup everyday.
Who Actually is Responsible for Crime Scene Cleanup?
There are a number of national organizations that are involved in crime scene cleaning and biohazard remediation nationally. These specialty organizations include the American Bio-Recovery Association (or ABRA), the International Sanitary Supply Association (or ISSA), and the Clean Trust (aka IICRC) who acts as the certifying body for the general clean up trade as a whole. These primary organizations certify and organize independent companies under their umbrella to coordinate with localized police, law enforcement, fire departments, and other entities that call on crime scene and clean up specialists in the United States.
All cleanup services and biohazard companies are required to meet with current OSHA, EPA and State Health Department protocols. These standards are setup to make sure that crime scene and biohazard cleanups are handled within safety guidelines, so that human beings do not get exposed to toxic or dangerous chemicals or compounds. Within these guidelines are stipulations for correct procedures that cover a number of different cleanup situations, each having specialized equipment, procedural, and federally sanctioned requirements.
Types of Crime Scenes and Cleanups
When an ordeal is over, the crime scene cleanup is a next step. There are local services that specialize in clean up procedures and know the protocols to work in tandem with law enforcement investigations, so that nothing is disturbed until all the evidence is gathered from the crime scene. Also having a professional company there for cleaning up any dangerous or troubling substances, fluids, or chemicals is the best way to assure everyone is kept safe. Such companies understand how challenging things can be, when a tragic event has occurred and they know the clean up procedures for any situation.
• Cleanup of Suicides
After a suicide, there are body fluids, blood, and sometimes waste by-products to clean up. It takes expertise and experience to clean this kind of crime scene thoroughly. This kind of crime event requires a quick cleanup crew after the investigation process is done. Suicide crime scenes can be particularly upsetting to see. Family and friends must return to a household or living space that is as free of reminders, as is possible to give them. Along with cleanup, there maybe coordination necessary to take care and transport the dead body or parts of one, so nothing is left over at the scene. This is a combined effort between law enforcement and the biohazard services, but the cleanup is primarily the responsibility of the local cleaning companies.
• Cleanup of Homicides
Homicide scenes usually involve law enforcement or first responders, so cleanup crews are usually second at the scene. Families and friends often don’t know what to do about cleanup, because it is their responsibility to arrange for cleaning services. There are some financial assistance programs that will help people hire specialist services for such work. It needs to be a company that can handle blood, body fluids or residues left over from the event itself. The primary concern is eliminating blood borne pathogens which are capable of spreading disease, but also leave noxious odors in any building space. Cleaning should be done with disinfectant and deodorizing compounds, along with holding to strict protocols and OSHA regulations, so cross contamination does not happen. Crime scenes involving homicide can be extremely hard to see for anyone, usually it is a top priority to get these sites finished with speed and efficiency. These scenes also require a compassionate response toward anyone from the friends, family, or loved ones that knew the dead persons.
• On Site Biohazards
Any biological substance can be a threat to health safety of human beings. Therefore all biohazards must be removed efficiently from a crime scene. A biohazard can include human body fluids, animal blood, human remains, medical waste, used needles, bandages or other waste materials. Biohazards can contain dangerous pathogens that spread infectious or toxic diseases. Although invisible to the eye, many biohazards can be inhaled, absorbed or ingested accidentally. Crime scene clean up crews make sure to us protective personal gear while the process of disinfection and bio-recovery is performed. All blood, fluids, and other biological materials are removed, along with porous furniture and most flooring. The process effectively removes any microscopic pathogens, but also eliminates unwanted odors from the crime scene.
• Tear Gases and Chemical Decontamination
Crime scenes sometimes require decontamination, this can mean the removal of tear gas or pepper spray. These chemicals are frequently used by law enforcement, as they are effective in bringing a high tension sign down in escalation. Handling these chemical improperly can causes respiratory problems, temporary blindness, internal pain, or skin rashes for people exposed to them. This is due to the way tear gas impacts the mucous membranes in human beings. These effects can continue to happen long after a crime scene is closed off, because the chemical compounds do not go away.
Therefore it is necessary to have technicians restore any building exposed to tear gas cleaned thoroughly. This type cleanup is particularly difficult, because the actual tear gas particles are fine like powered substances, and they get everywhere. All surfaces must be washed with plastic sheets, duct tape and sealed off. The process must be monitored for cross contamination, taking some time in a large building or facility. This is especially true in places with brick walls or porous surface constructions. This is something that can’t be left to amateur cleaning services.
Who is Responsible for the Cleanup Costs?
The crime scene cleanup or biohazard service will generally arrive and perform an initial inspection. After an inspection is done, an evaluation will be written up with a plan for cleanup. Generally the individual homeowner or business owner is responsible for the costs, this is true for cleanup services of all types, even when called for suicides or homicides. Most homeowners insurances will take on the costs for such cleaning assistance, but it is possible that the individual will be asked to cover costs out of pocket. Everything that will be done during cleanup is discussed, along with how long the actual process will take from start to finish. After the plan and proposal is accepted, the cleanup process can begin immediately.