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Follow the procedure: Working protocols

September 19, 2010
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In the course of work, the bio technician will come across different situations that will call for awareness of safety protocols.

The following is a look at certain protocols that need to be considered, while developing policy and procedure within the bio cleaning company.

These are only a few of the main protocols used by the bio cleaning firm.

Evidence
During the course of work, the technician will come across various items that may be suspected as evidence in a crime or trauma scene.

These items can be accidentally missed by the authorities, but could generate great interest on their behalf.

Some of these items could be a suicide note, a bloody razor blade, or knife, a bullet casing or spent bullet round, or a fragment of a spent round.

One company in Iowa found a pager, which lead to an eventual arrest of a suspect, another company in California found a cell phone, which the police stated had helped in the investigation.

Your company will need to establish an Evidential Protocol and your technicians will need to be trained in that protocol.

Part of the protocol could read as follows:

“At the time of discovery of a potential evidential item the technician will stop work and leave the scene area, leaving the evidence in place. The technician will doff their PPE and call the authorities and the office to inform them of the find. If the evidence was disturbed in any way, the technician should replace the item back in its original setting and inform the arriving authority it had been disturbed before you realized it might be evidential.”

On occasion, the authorities will instruct the technicians that they have no interest in the items and to proceed with their work or they will arrive and shut down the scene and ask the technicians to pack up their equipment and leave the premises to return on another day.

Firearms
Technicians will come across firearms that may or may not be armed. Great care should always be given as to the handling of these firearms.

Many times, family members will have knowledge of these weapons and inform you of what to do with them.

If you are at a location where no family member is present and you have no knowledge as to how to make sure the weapons are unloaded or safe, you should consider the following protocol.

The technician should call the local police or sheriff department and inform them of who you are and that you are in need of an officer to stop by and help in making sure the weapon is secure.

If the technician has the ability to unload the weapon, they should don clean gloves for handling the weapon, and safely unload, sanitize it and place in a safe inconspicuous location outside the work area.

Protocols would also dictate notification of the gun’s whereabouts to the family.

Medications
There are times the technician will come across medication either within their containers or scattered about within the debris field.

Often, these medications have become contaminated with blood and tissue.

At the time of this writing there is concern as to what the right protocol should be.

In the past, many technicians and law enforcement have simply flushed the meds down the commode and informed the family.

The EPA has stated unequivocally no meds are to be flush into the sewer system at any time; this is a direct violation of regulations.

The DEA has stated that if a technician has the ability to have the meds incinerated they should do so.

The technician should provide a “Drug Disposal Form,” supplied by the company, and have a responsible family member sign the form, which states the process. The form will list all the drugs to be disposed.

If the drugs are to be left behind for the family to dispose, our suggestion for an alternate protocol is to bag the containers after cleaning and place a sign inside the bag plainly stating: “According to the EPA, at no time are medications to be flushed into the sewer or septic system.”

Illicit drugs
As a technician, you may on rare occasions come across illicit drugs.

The proper protocol is to call the local law enforcement to recover the illicit substance.

The technician should provide the law enforcement officer with a form receipt to sign for the contraband.

Bad neighborhoods
Crimes happen many times in neighborhoods that are considered dangerous by the public and authorities.

Although, most scenes will be perfectly safe to enter, a small percentage may have the potential for incidents of vandalism to trucks and equipment, or physical harm to the technician.

If the technician is unfamiliar with an area, there are several things the technician can do.

First, they can call the local law enforcement and ask about the safety of the area in question.

Second, they can ask for a patrolperson to be placed on-site, or cruise by the scene several times within the next few hours.

A technician should never go to a questionable site alone.

If an incident happens that makes the technicians feel unsafe for any reason, they should pack up the equipment and leave.

It should always be left to the technician’s discretion whether a job is safe to perform.

No job is worth anyone’s safety or life.


Don M. McNulty is president and founder of Bio Cleaning Services of America, Inc. He trains and certifies technicians in the bio cleaning (bio recovery) industry. For more information, please visit www.biocleaningservices.com.
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