A traumatic experience Here, Ideal Response detail a recent trauma scene clean that became a nightmare.

Most of us are fortunate enough that we will never need trauma scene cleaning services. But for those that do, the responsibilities and risks can feel overwhelming in what is already a distressing and stressful time.

Trauma cleans are never easy. They’re distressing for everyone involved, not least of all the family of the deceased. But recently, we were called upon to help a grieving family after a simple mistake spiralled a trauma clean into more stress and costs that they never could have imagined.

On 16 March, we took a call from the nephew of a gentleman who had sadly passed away at home. It was unknown how long his body had been there, although the death was said to have maybe happened several days prior to the call.

Because of the time that had lapsed since the death, there was a significant chance that there would be bodily fluids from the first stages of decomposition. And if this was the case, there would also be the risk of the fluids seeping into the flooring and underneath the floorboards.

Trauma scenes are naturally hazardous, primarily because of the presence of bodily fluids and blood. As such, strict legislations and guidelines are in place surrounding their cleaning, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of anyone who uses the building.

While it’s true that some viruses (for example HIV) and bacteria will not survive for very long outside of the body, that cannot be taken for granted. While HIV will not survive for long on surfaces, depending on temperature and several other factors, HIV can live in a used needle for up to 42 days. Hepatitis C can survive in dried blood outside the

body at room temperature for several weeks, and Hepatitis B can survive for around a week.

It’s easy to underestimate just how far blood and bodily fluids can travel. Not only can blood squirt around six feet, but it also absorbs; for instance, a small drop of blood on carpet could actually be a large pool of blood underneath. Not only is it imperative to clean and sanitise the surrounding and immediate areas, but the risk of cross- contamination also needs to be evaluated.

If bodily fluids seep into carpets or underneath floorboards, and the affected area isn’t cleaned adequately, health risks to other occupants of the building can last for a prolonged period of time. Meaning that anybody who comes into contact with the area is at risk of contracting blood-borne diseases and/or viruses.

It isn’t unheard of for the fluid generated by a decomposing body to drip down into the fabric of the building and affect apartments below, or for an entire house to be stripped down to its core to remove contaminated materials. To ensure the safety of the building’s occupants (and future occupants), it is absolutely vital that experienced and qualified professionals are employed to clean and sanitise the scene.

Traumas also attract other problems. Maggots and flies will quickly appear and if all traces of the trauma are not efficiently removed, insect infestations can persist.

Even if the area where the person died looks relatively unaffected, specialist cleaning and decontamination is crucial. Risks to health are not always visible and just because something looks clean, doesn’t mean it is.


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