When sending the bio technician to the job site, he should be armed with all the information the office can gather about the job.
Was this a suicide? If so, what was used? A death by shotgun or large caliber rifle results in more contamination than a 9 mm or a .38 caliber pistol. Is this an unattended death? If so, how long was it before the death scene was discovered? A one or two month unattended leaves far more damage than a one or two week unattended.
Letting the technician know what they are walking into before they leave the shop allows them to build on and use their bracing skills, which can cut down on the stress of the work. Training should prepare the technician on how to deal with death scene situations.
Technicians, as they arrive, should eliminate all chatter between team members. Radios and other audio equipment should be shut off and the technicians should be preparing their “game-face.” There should be no laughing or jokes anywhere near the job site. Imagine: The technicians seen laughing or joking as they approach the job site… if seen or heard by neighbors, this will get back to the victims.
Only one of the technicians should be designated to have any conversations of substance with the client. This doesn’t mean the other technicians have to appear deaf mute, but any official conversations should only be through the appointed technician or, if the company is large enough, the project manager.
Conversations with client families can be varied and/or erratic. Quite a few times you’ll find family members wanting to talk about the decedent or injured and what’s surrounding the incident. I always let them talk because it’s cathartic to them and it builds goodwill toward the company, but I always found a way to express my condolences and keep the conversations short. If you cut them off too soon you’ll appear to be uncaring; if you allow them to talk too much it will hinder the work flow.
Remember: The job of the technician is to get in, do the job and get out, so the family can get on with their grieving and getting their lives put back together.
Don M. McNulty is one of the leading instructors in forensic restoration and has been teaching and certifying technicians since 2002. You can find out more information and Don’s teaching schedule through his website www.BioTechnicianCourse.com