I am a certified Biohazard, trauma , and crime scene remediator/cleaner. Ask me anything!
This is my first AmA so bear with me!
I am certified by the American Bio Recovery Association, in the clean up and mitigation of crime scenes, deaths, and trauma scenes.
I also hold certifications with the Institute of inspection cleaning and restoration certification (IICRC) -Water damage mitigation -Smoke/soot remediation - Mold remediation -Applied structure drying
I also have a lot of experience with home/renters insurance, so ask away!
I work 7am-4pm M-F but I'm on call 24/7 so I am on the road quite often, I'll answer questions on mobile if I have too!
With all the recommendations to watch the cleaner, I ordered the DVD from Netflix! I'll watch it and post my comparison here!
My truck outside the building of a natural gas explosion in Springfeild,MA last year
And some of my certs on the wall in my office.
Get an degreaser( goo gone lol) dilute it, test on fabric before use, and blot stain clean! Rinse with water, then hang dry and send to dry cleaners!
Do you work alone? If not, do you just have regular chitchat with your coworkers while working?
"Morning John, how's the wife?" -vacuums in 20 gallons of liquified Grandma- "Good, she's invited you for dinner tonight! -throws half a jaw into a biohazard bag-
Funny thing , my co-workers name Is john!!! And yes that's accurate !
Whats the craziest thing you've ever seen?
The worst was definitely the old lady In a bathtub, 4 months. Had to use shovels and absorbent( spill gone) to get all the fluids out!
Aww man, nobody found her for 4 months?
That's actually really sad.
What did upset me was that her family was there, balling their eyes out. Idk if they we're cause they neglected her or cause they were actually sad
What is the messiest crime scene you've come across? Or the most high profile?
The Boston bombing site
I've seen an AMA similar to this one. The guy said he is able to use humour to deal with what he sees better. Do you use this same method? Are you ever disgusted or sad about what you see? What's the worst you've seen?
Thank you :)
The hardest part of the job is dealing with the next of kin and the media, that's the largest mental drain, normally it's just cleaning up a mess, but when you start finding out who that mess belongs too, or how it came to be it starts to get very difficult.
The worst was definitely the old lady In a bathtub, 4 months. Had to use shovels and absorbent( spill gone) to get all the fluids out!
Why didn't you just throw away the bathtub?!
What are you gonna do with the 50 gallons of liquified grandma?
Add root beer. Oops that's how you make a dead baby float.
What's the difference between a dead baby float and a root beer float?
...I don't have a root beer float in my hands right now
i allways find baby a bit over powering. if you use grand ma you get a smother flavor
It's like a fine aged whiskey
exactly. but if you are out of grandma i much prefer powdered baby to fresh
Powdered is great, you can sprinkle it on everything!
How do you determine the charge for the job?
How much do you charge per job?
What's something you take for granted that you do every job that would make an average joe/jane throw-up or freak-out over?
Thanks for the AMA!
Time and materials usually, just for perspective my labor rates are around $100 an hour.
Um it would have to the odor and remnant body parts, sometimes it still gets me though.
Funny thing is that till this day, even working in the nastiest conditions, the only thing that makes me puke is puke and watching someone do so.
at first I was like "$100!? Outrageous!" and then I remembered the grandma in the bathtub.
Wow, you make bank, huh?
I am 21, I have my own apartment, new car and enough money for fun on the weekends, I say I do pretty well for my age
I'm sure you tell great stories at parties, too.
Yea, but if I tell stories I usually do not get laid....:(
Not an actual question. Just wanted to let you know that there is a german television show based on that exact job. It's also quite funny if you're into dark humour/sarcasm. Probably will never get translated tho.
Link for the curious: http://youtu.be/coghUoGnnI4
Surprising accurate with the whole eating lunch scene( made a maintenance worker boot cause I was eating pasta with sauce on a job site) but most people stay the fuck away from us when we work.
How many dead bodies have you seen? And which one was the worst?
I have actually never seen one, we go in after the coroner picks up the body, most I've see was a couple pieces of jaw and skull.
It was a shotgun suicide, I'm sure you could fill in the blanks...
How did you get INTO it? I mean like.. did you go to college to be a "Dead guy clean-er-up-er"? Or was it post-college?
Does it pay well? How do you get 'jobs'? i mean.. did you have to register your company with the police or government? I assume you cant just go around cleaning up stuff like that without some serious red tape.
I ran out of money for college(lost interest)
My step father works at Home Depot, the manager of my shop came in and said they were hiring, I got the job and it's just been OSHA training, classes then on the job training
What's the funniest thing you've seen on the job?
Art work from the tenants
Edit: exhibit A: http://i.imgur.com/uNf3rSv.jpg
I have about 30 photos of this guys "art" I'm gonna post an album once this AMA dies.
have you ever been in a secret/classified mission?
edit if yes, tell about! same with next question!
do you know of the existence of some chemical/bio stuff that regular people don't?
I actually am in the army too! Chemical biological radiological nuclear specialist is my MOS
Cool! So, are you allowed to talk about such things I asked?
I am a strict follower of my general orders, google is your friend on this one kind sir, much apologies, the MOS code is 74D
No worries, thanks for replying, myte.
Here's a couple new questions:
Which chemistry/physics/biology did you need to study in order to be a certified biohazard?
What's the most exciting aspect of your job? What do you like the most or find more interesting?
Very minimal science involved( much to my disappointment)
The most interesting is the containment, protection and Decontamination procedures.
Edit: oh and how many countries actually posses and have the capability using chemical weapons, and other WMDs is a rather scary fact
Cool, I appreciate your answers!
If you don't mind, these are the last ones!
Do you travel a lot? inside the USA? other countries? what's the most exciting place you've been? And what's the most difficult situation you've been in?
edit also, is there some thing you don't like about your job? some thing you would like to change, despite you accept it as part of your job?
I stay mostly in CT and sometimes other parts of MA
The worst part is media, the last job I did I was cleaning up after a stair collapse, there was 6 news cameras on me the whole time, most awkward " what the fuck am I doing with my life moment"
Are you hiring?
Always! You live in New England?
How do you get the rotting flesh odor out of a room you are cleaning?
Remove the source, then perfume for the psychological aspect, then ozone or hydroxyl generators, and air filtration!
Forensic anthropologist here, I'm a big fan of little plastic cups of downey or similar fabric softener placed in our vehicles for when a smell gets set in.
Vick vapor rub! Underneath the nose!
Lol! The downey is to get the smell out of the car, so that other users of the vehicles don't get grossed out. (Or us, when we're transporting someone/thing in a personal vehicle. I've never actually seen anyone do the Vicks outside of Silence of the Lambs. Oh, and ravers.
It's good when you have to spend 8-12 hour days around the smell, for the trucks we use super sock or COC by odor x, available
How do the ozone and hydroxyl generators work? Where can you buy those? (A friend is flipping a house that reeks of cat piss)
Cat piss is a tough one. Clean the carpets professionally but be prepared to replace them, the padding, and possibly some of the wood underneath (if it's concrete underneath, wash with a bleach solution). Get a blacklight. After cleaning something, look at it again in the dark under the blacklight. If it glows it goes. When the blacklight test comes up clean everywhere, have the ducts cleaned and repaint.
Source: bought a home on the cheap from a lady with some naughty cats.
Spot on my friend !!
You have to remove the source of the odors first!
Well, if it's a case where the cats pissed everywhere, you can pretty much just scrap all the carpet. Use a blacklight to see where there is urine, then remove carpet and pad and throw it away. Clean the floor or underlayment with lysol/bleach or whatever you prefer. If the build up is really bad, after the floor has dried coat it with a layer or two of sealant (like Binz) then replace the pad and carpet.
Don't forget to remove and replace the tackstrips if they are coated in urine too!
Source: I used to work as a project manager for a restoration/cleaning company and we did this ALL THE TIME with super nasty rental units.
Still in the business? New England area? We need a new project manager!
How are you contacted for a job: the police, victim's family, ...?
Insurance companies, and property management!
What's an average job like for you?
What was the worst experience you've had on the job?
Usually, just natural causes, some bodily fluids, nothing crazy
Worst is DB in the appt for 5 weeks, HIV+, heroin addict and a hoarder.
Were you in constant fear that a needle would poke you?
Yep, you literally have to pick up each piece of trash individually to make sure there weren't any in the pile, imagine doing that in a 800sf house, with trash 3-4' deep all around
So is coke syrup still the king for getting blood and gore out of carpet, and off ceramic?
Knew someone that had an apartment complex where someone died, and nobody noticed for about 20 days. So, I figured more up to date info might be helpful for any property maint people out there who can't afford to pay $300-$500 an hour for cleanup services.
It's better to spend the money, tenants are sue happy!
Say i shoot an intruder in my home, blood all over, etc. Police take the body (or ambulance if they guy lived). How much am i out for cleanup? Does my homeowners cover anything like that?
Insurance! But some churches and cities have funds to cover that if you don't have homeowners or renters insurance.
Ever cleaned up a scene before a crime was actually reported?
Nope but have waited hours and hours for it to be cleared
How come you choose this line of work? Is the pay worth it?
For the time being it is ( 50 to 60k for a 21 year old no minimal college) , but we get burned out, no amount of money is worth my sanity or health
My husband barely has a sense of smell (both a curse and a blessing, I suppose). Do you find your sense of smell to be helpful or a hinderance in your line of work?
Helpful! I become nose deaf though( used to the smell) but it's helpful to see how my progress is with odor control
Did that natural gas explosion kill anybody? Do you only get involved when death is involved, or will you clean anything?
My company does fire mold water, so everything pretty much!
Oh and luckily no deaths, all the strippers left!
Is it always strictly professional or do you ever mess around with your colleagues?
It's hard too, usually light conversation and music makes time go by.
You never know who is watching.
Sounds like a hard job. I couldn't do it.
Had a guy pick up an eye ball, and say " here's lookin at you kid". He didn't last long
He was gone in the blink of an eye.
How do you dispose of insects/maggots on a job. Do you get an exterminator in before, or is that something you have to deal with?
Shop-vac, the we just bill the cost of a new vac, it costs more for me to Decon the vacuum
Have you ever seen the movie Sunshine Cleaners? What did you think about it if you have? I never really considered there was an actual job of cleaning up crime scenes until I saw that movie, and then I realized what an interesting job it would be. Is it hard to get into this line of work? What made you decide to do this for a living? Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
All these movie suggestions! And it's not hard to get into it, find a place and apply. They take anyone willing to do it. The turnover rate is fast so most places hire a lot
All these movie suggestions!
How many times have you puked on the job? I puked once where I work when I found 5 lbs or so of hamburger hidden on a high shelf. It looked like black and green maggot soup. The meat trap in our meat department backs up once a month and the first time I saw a butcher digging through the gray meat scraps made me toss my cookies. I have since become immune.
I haven't, but a few coworkers have, puked right in their mask
I'm curious - is your job anything like the job depicted in the movie, "Curdled," apologies if you haven't seen that movie. (Although you should, especially with your line of work.)
Is it on netflix?
How do natural disasters work? Because you get people who volunteer to search through wreckage, what happens when they come across tons of bodies? I imagine they can't just bulldoze buildings down when bodies are still there and I imagine John Doe from the local kiwanis club isn't piling up dead bodies.
Have you ever done consulting for TV or movies on how to develop crime scene sets?
Civil authorities handle those ones, usually paramedics and fire
Cut out the carpet, impossible really
Have you seen this movie? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0896798/ - Do you think that premise is scary?
Haha I'll watch it and return back!
I want them to come out with a movie with a dexter like plot, a guy like me goes on a killing spree just to keep his business...
The smell of decomp over powers everything
And when it dries it's like cement
Have you ever cleaned up something you shouldn't have?
Have you ever ended up in a life threatening situation after completing a job? (Death threats, bad effects on your health etc)
Everyone is Extremely thankful for what I do, no death threats!
I look at it as a fact of life, someone's gotta do it. I give closure to people, so they can return into their home and not be reminded of what happened, I try to make the place look better than before the loss. At times I'm a grieving counselor just because I'm there, and at times I have amazing experiences!
For example, I was involved in the clean up from the Boston marathon bombing, it was gruesome but humbling. I heard stories of heroism from the victims and bystanders. It was amazing meeting the heroes that were there that day, owners of shops were using their product as tourniquets and stores as triage centers, runners ran an additional 2 miles to the closest hospital to donate blood. Those a the few good memories I have from doing this job
Hi! What was the tub incident like, sorry if I'm bringing up bad memories
The only thing that was bad was the smell, it could would punch you in face! The rest wasn't bad, cause it didn't resemble him a flesh anymore, just maggot soup
" 'just' maggot soup"
I find myself relating things to food way too much in this AMA.
How often do you go and do one of these clean-ups? It can't be every day....right?
It's usually a few a month, CT has a great amount of subsidized housing/assisted living, and 3 of our biggest cities are ranked as the worst in the US. So between murders and natural deaths, and just people being unsanitary I stay pretty busy.
How do you get into this business?
Have some construction background, and apply.
What did you think of the relatively unknown film "Cleaner" with Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Eva Mendes?
If you have not seen it you should watch it and let us know how close to your job it actually is.
A few people have recommended it to me, I'll watch it and compare it to the real thing
I'll PM all the users that recommend it, and put it in as an edit on the original post
Just gotta blur out the cert numbers before I post them on imgur! Will be verified soon!
Urgent! How do I get protein stains out of cashmere?
View HistoryShare Link