Need to Know - What to Ask Before Hiring A Crime Scene Cleaner
The roots of crime- and trauma-scene cleaning companies can be traced to the 1990s, and at that time only a dozen or so companies existed. The industry was widely unregulated and awareness of contamination risks were relatively non-existant.
"I was young and dumb and saw something you only see in movies, so I quickly shut the door, took a deep breath, sat on the couch with the widow and told everyone else to get her out of here and take her to lunch, and we’ll clean this up for her," said Nick-Anthony Zamucen, Founder of Bio-One Inc. "We were just trying to help a lady in her greatest time of need, and that’s for me how I got into the crime scene and cleaning business." Read Nick's story in Franchise Times.
Today, there are hundreds of companies that advertise crime and trauma scene cleaning, and a simple Google search may prove overwhelming when you're experiencing one of the most traumatic moments in your life. To help, we've listed pre-qualifying questions to ask before choosing a crime and trauma scene company.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Crime and Trauma Scene Cleaner
There are a number of key questions to ask crime and trauma scene cleaning technicians or business owners to properly root out which one is best for your goals and circumstances.
Are you local? When there's a blood spill, response time is key to prevent biohazards from spreading and to ensure quick remediation. Several businesses may pay for online advertising in your city, but their technicians could be 3 or more hours away. Furthermore, avoid calling toll free numbers. "These numbers often lead to call centers. We're local. They're not," said Ginger Akemon, owner of Bio-One in Jacksonville, FL.
Is your business certified and insured? Professional crime and trauma scene cleaning companies should have bloodborne pathogen certifications, they should follow OSHA personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines and remediation processes, and they should have insurance for their business.
What is your process for disposing biohazardous waste? Once the remediation is complete, the accumulated waste will need to be disposed in accordance to local state guidelines. Make sure the business owner or technician is aware of these guidelines and has an appropriate plan for disposal.
What happens to valuable or personal items that are impacted? At Bio-One, we are trained to be mindful of valuable and perceived valuable items, such as pictures, wallets, or a baseball card collection. Professional crime and trauma scene cleaners should ask if there are valuable items to keep an eye out for, and they will keep the family informed if these items are found.
How will you charge for your services? In most cases, home insurance will cover the cost of biohazard remediation - less your deductible. Ask if they can open a claim on your behalf, taking this burden off your shoulders. If you don't have homeowners insurance, it's OK to ask for a free estimate so you can compare costs between other local companies.
Will you be discrete during and after the job? Michele Amoranto, Bio-One owner in Oceanside, CA, always assures her clients that discretion is top of mind while her team is onsite. Bio-One vehicles are unmarked and technicians will designate work areas to don and doff PPE out of view from neighbors.
Do you have a list of resources that can help after the cleanup? You may need flooring replaced or fresh drywall installed, which will also be covered under your home insurance claim, and a recommendation could help speed up the reconstruction process. Additionally, many crime and trauma scene cleaners have connections with local counselors and victim's advocates. In west Texas, Bio-One owner, Garrett Spooner, always offers a list of free mental health resources and states that, "Being volunteers of our local Crisis Intervention Unit, we consider our job incomplete without making sure our clients' mental health, grief process, and other issues our clients may have, are addressed."
Last but certainly most important, make sure the business you speak with shows care and compassion for your situation. They should want to do everything possible to support you and your loved ones.