Careers in crime scene cleanup
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As a new firefighter back in 1998, Brian Woronuik of Delta, B.C., had a very different reaction to scenes of blood, guts and gore than most people.
Instead of getting freaked out, he wondered who would clean up.
"I got me thinking, I wonder if there are any companies out there who would look after these families' needs in times of disaster?" thought Woronuik, who's now 38.
For two years he researched the business before getting a loan to launch Trauma Scene Clean Up. He got certified by the American Bio-Recovery Association, and called on his stepfather and several firefighter colleagues to work with him.
The company's first call was for an older man who'd been found dead in his home after more than a week. A funeral home had taken the body away, but the signs and smells of decomposition needed serious clean up.
The man's family stood aside while Woronuik and his crew did their thing. "They were so thankful of our services, we knew we were onto something."
For a typical call, the company tries to respond within a few hours. Depending on the scene, two technicians or more will show up and at least one will gear up in a disposable protective suit and put on gloves and a respirator.
Anything with blood on it gets placed in a biohazard tub â€” they're brought back to the office and disposed of safely later. Then the crew pulls out hospital grade cleaners and sets to disinfecting the site. "We make it as close to pre incident as possible," says Woronuik.
It's exhausting work, and the suits can get pretty hot.
Calls can take a few hours, or a few days. A murder or suicide can cause blood and bones to be thrown some distance, so technicians have to move furniture. If a body sits for a long time, blood can pool and drip through walls and floors, and things may even have to be torn up.
Since Woronuik is almost always on call â€” between the business and his firefighting shifts â€” he's having trouble finishing building a fence on his property. And he's missed two weddings.
Most of Woronuik's six employees balance clean up work with firefighting too. They're all used to seeing blood and body parts.
"We're very professional about it. Everyone has figured out how to cope years ago."