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by Wendy Stackhouse · September 16, 2013

Choosing a Reputable Trauma Scene Cleanup Company

Navy Yard crime scene

Sadly today we are watching a crime and trauma scene unfold in Washington, D.C. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

But after all of the investigations are complete, there will still be a mess to clean up.

It's bad enough being involved in a situation like the one we are following today, but after the camera crews and the CSI teams go back to the office, your challenges are only beginning. The emotional fallout from crimes and trauma cannot be minimized, of course, even for bystanders, and it can definitely be tempting to get rid of the evidence of a crime or a trauma as quickly as possible without regard to the cost, but a reputable company will not take advantage of your emotional state.

We have reported before about a company in Maryland which is charging huge fees for trauma and crime scene cleanup projects. The victims in these cases were required to sign documents called "mechanics liens" which required them to pay whatever the charges would be and then overcharged, in our opinion as much as double a reasonable rate.

Late last week, we received a report of the same company taking advantage of crime victims in Iowa. This is a national company which has had a lot of coverage on television and even had a book written about them. But there are extensive complaints about them as well.

The most recent report involves a family which was charged $44,000 for one day's work. But that's not the worst. "Others in the biohazard business told me this week they have reviewed even higher bills from Aftermath for insurance adjustors — including one for $82,800 last year in Muscatine," said Dr. Dan Cole, an officer of the Iowa Association of County Medical Examiners in the Des Moines Register. Complaints about the company have been filed in at least 12 states.

Why did the Iowa sheriffs and medical examiners recommend the company to crime victims. Apparently, the company heavily marketed law enforcement departments, which had copies of sales brochures in their offices to give out. Those marketing materials have since been destroyed by the sheriffs, according to the article.

Here are some details about Crime and Trauma scene cleanup projects from a previous post:

Crime and Trauma Scene Cleanup

Crime and Trauma scenes involve all sorts of hazardous materials, both biological and chemical, not to mention other nasty substances that make ordinary people run for the hills. Or at least the bushes!

Cleanup teams are well-protected--they wear one-time-use hazardous material suits, respirators, gloves and chemical spill boots. They use ordinary cleaning supplies like mops, sponges, buckets and spray bottles, but professional clean up crews also bring a lot of specialized equipment:

  • Ozone machines to remove odors
  • Foggers—cleaning chemicals have to reach all the way down into air ducts to get rid of bad smells, too
  • Industrial strength disinfectants and deodorizers
  • Enzyme solvents to eliminate viruses and bacteria, as well as liquefy dried blood!
  • Razor blades to remove portions of carpeting

...and more. They also bring a truck to transport all of the hazardous waste, ladders so they can reach every bit of the scene, supplies for doing reconstruction and photography equipment for taking before and after pictures for insurance claims.

Rather than adding to the trauma of losing a loved on or having a crime committed on your property, however, your cleanup crew should make dealing with the aftermath easier emotionally and not make it worse by charging people who are already in shock exorbitant amounts of money.

We want you to know that, although we hope you never need our crime or trauma scene cleanup services, if you do, we hold ourselves to a high ethical standard and would never take advantage of people under stress. We will always be professional and our standing in our industry and with the Better Business Bureau is there to prove it. We know you want to choose a cleanup company quickly, but a little research goes a long way. Just because the authorities hand you a glossy brochure, doesn't mean you are getting the right company.

How to choose a reputable company?

Check them out on social media. Many people have realized that voicing their complaints on Facebook or Twitter gets them customer service department attention.

Google for complaints about them.

Read customer reviews on sites like Yelp.

Call and talk to someone at the company to get a feel for their culture.

In today's interconnected environment, there is a lot of information to be found about the quality of work of all kinds of service companies. Don't let the shock of being a crime victim or responsible for cleaning up a crime scene make you an easy mark. And if you ever need crime or trauma scene cleanup services in California, you can be confident in the compassionate and ethical business practices of Alliance Environmental Group.

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