Local disaster restoration companies know the expression, “it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it,” very well.
Not only are they helping individuals and businesses recover from flood and fire disasters, but they also specialize in what’s known as trauma cleanup.
Daniel Hambly, co-owner of Dream Steam Carpet Clean in Cedar Rapids, said the calls for trauma cleanup range from an unattended death or suicide cleanup to taking care of the site of a former meth lab. And they are called — by next of kin, neighbors, property owners and insurance companies — to clean everything from apartments and private residences to cars and multiple rooms in a hotel.
“These are not situations the homeowner or whomever can take care of by themselves,” Hambly said. “You need a professional with experience in the industry.”
“There are a lot of health hazards involved, so this is definitely something best left to professionals,” added Chad Reichert, general manager at Service Master 380 in Cedar Rapids. “We are removing chemicals or substances and disinfecting the area. And when it’s a meth lab cleanup, these are volatile chemicals we are dealing with.”
Not surprisingly, the biggest concern in doing this specialized work is employee safety.
“We wear full chem gear, or what’s called personal-protective equipment,” Hambly explained. “Our guys are in protective suits, full face masks and double layer gloves with all the seams taped.
“We have to go in assuming the worst if any type of biohazard is involved. We take every precaution for the safety of our employees.”
Reichert noted they even work to isolate the air when dealing with meth labs so others aren’t exposed.
Trauma cleanup crews are certified and trained to deal with these situations.
“Our team flew out to a specialized training in Arizona,” he said. “You also have to have a contract with a medical-waste facility to properly dispose of items from the clean up.”
For example, if someone died on a sofa, that piece of furniture would then need to be cut into pieces, put into bags, then placed into biohazard containers. It’s an involved and hazardous job.
Reichert said Service Master 380 deals with about two or three trauma cleanup calls per month. In this case, one of the biggest concerns can be customer communication.
“We have a job to do,” he said, “but we need to consider what’s just happened.”