Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Jan-Feb 2017 Contents 14 INCLEAN January/February 2017
Some end-of-life stories are especially tragic. Violent crimes, suicides,
people who pass away alone at home – their deaths not discovered
for some time.
One element of these stories that many don’t consider is the
required cleaning up of the crime or trauma scene. For a growing
band of trauma cleaners in Australia, providing such cleaning and
restoration services is also helping to relieve family members and
friends of this confronting duty.
In fact, learning that some friends had been left traumatised in
2004 by cleaning up following a mate’s suicide was the impetus for
Elias Bobridge, who has worked in marketing for two decades, to get
involved in trauma cleaning.
“In 2006, I wanted to do something different and thought, ‘I
wonder who actually does that?’” he recalled.
“In my research back then I pulled up 7800 cleaning companies on
Google, but only seven businesses catered for trauma cleaning and
they were based in Melbourne and Sydney.”
Following further research into the multi-billion-dollar US
biocleaning market, Elias was keen to establish a business in
Brisbane. He met his partner, Charina Farry, a registered nurse, in
2012 and she loved the idea. In 2013, with $30,000 Elias saved from
a house sale, Aust Biocleaning opened for business.
“I thought why not give it a go, and with my background and what
Elias has done, we put it all together,” Charina said.
“We have children and running our own business has worked
more efficiently for us and I’ve never looked back. When a job is
completed you feel like you’ve helped that family out.”
The business soon went “from strength to strength”, ranging from
crime scene, suicide and unattended death cleaning to industrial
accident cleaning, meth lab decontamination and hoarder cleaning.
Its main focus was taking the pressure off families.
Cleaning with compassion in times of tragedy
It’s a branch of cleaning most people don’t want to think
about. But, as its owners tell INCLEAN’s Jo Cooper,
trauma and biohazard cleaning services such as Aust
Biocleaning can ease emotional burdens and protect
broader community health.
“If it’s your own family it can be hard to clean things up because
you’ve got that connection,” Elias said. “When it’s outside the family
it’s easier to go in because you don’t have the attachment. And you
understand they’re grieving at the time and it’s a massive loss.”
An early strategy by Elias was visiting and leaving his card at
every police station from Gympie, north of Brisbane, through to
Loganholme in the south.
“The response from police was, ‘Wow, we need people like you’.”
These days, Aust Biocleaning’s details are included in police
officers’ diaries and they are a valued supporter of AiPol “and that
helps our business to grow”, Elias revealed, adding that their work
is generally within a three-hour radius of Brisbane, although they
travel interstate for larger jobs.
Charina’s skills and knowledge of infection control and health and
safety mean they are fastidious about their processes. Before cleaning
begins, blood is broken down with a special detergent (disinfectant
cannot remove it properly); that then clears the way for high-grade
bleaches and industrial-grade disinfectants to be used.
“If anything needs removing we will do that, and make a decision
as to whether we need grout removed,” she said.
Working with blood is potentially infectious, Charina stated, so
Aust Biocleaning treats every job as if there is infection present.
“We clean up the same way and dispose of everything we use each
time from mopheads, scrubbers to gloves – anything that comes in
contact with blood and saliva, urine and faeces.”
These items are bagged up in clinical waste bags and placed in
clinical waste bins. The cleaning process also takes into account the
environment in which death has occurred: for example, couches and
mattresses touched by bodily fluids are removed; timber floors must
have contaminated areas cut away while concrete is cleaned; and
carpet and underlay is always ripped up.
“It’s almost like peeling back an onion – once you peel one layer
back and see what you have; peel the next layer back and deal with
that; until you can get to a clean state,” Elias said.
“We have a fogger for certain situations, but a lot of it is getting
down on your hands and knees and cleaning it up.”
Once the biohazard room of a house is cleaned up, the fogger can
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