Members of a school’s volleyball team came down with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), so school officials called in bio-response specialists to track the source of the infection and disinfect the campus.

After the specialists cleaned and disinfected the volleyball courts, the locker rooms, and the showers, more team members came down with MRSA. So, the specialists turned their attention to the campus fitness center. After a thorough disinfection, the MRSA cases among the team ceased.

This scenario, although realistic, was actually an exercise in which attendees of a bio-response fundamentals training workshop presented by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, got the chance to try out what they learned. The all-day forensic restoration operator workshop, held this week at ISSA headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois, was created for individuals and facility service professionals seeking information and training on responding to disease outbreak situations, gaining skills in forensic cleaning and professional disinfection, and understanding the important role the cleaning industry has in public preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks.

Following a morning of training on germs; personal protective equipment (PPE); the methods and differences of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting; and an overview of cleaning and disinfecting tools and equipment, attendees were ready to put their knowledge to test in the afternoon. They donned the appropriate PPE: paper coveralls, respirators, full-face shields, disposable gloves, shoe covers, hair covers, and even a helmet equipped with a cooling HEPA filter. They chose their microbial weapons—microfiber cleaning tools and a variety of electrostatic disinfecting sprayers available in hand-held, backpack, and wheeled cart models—and set off for the ISSA fitness center, which was masquerading as the volleyball team facility.

As GBAC forensic restoration operator trainers prompted them to start from the cleanest surface and make their way to the dirtiest, the trainees used their sprayers to mist the ceiling first, then the walls, all the fitness equipment, then lastly, the floors. “Gymnasiums are hard to disinfect as there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of areas for germs to hide,” said GBAC board member Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner.

Staff reminded them to follow disinfectant dwell times, so if a product required a 10-minute dwell time and it was dry in seven minutes, it was best to rewet the surface.

After the class participants finished disinfecting the room, they made sure not to contaminate the room again with their equipment by cleaning the wheels and cord of a pull-along disinfectant sprayer. They also took care not to contaminate themselves, by following earlier instructions on the correct removal of disposable gloves as well as the rest of their PPE.  “You can practice removing disposable gloves while you are at home, watching tv,” Macgregor-Skinner suggested.

When one participant realized he had torn his coveralls, Macgregor-Skinner explained how he always carries duct tape for such emergencies. “Tears are realistic. Duct tape any rips; duct tape is your best friend,” he said.

Prepare your professional cleaning and restoration staff to become microbial warriors. Register for the next GBAC workshop, forensic restoration operator training held February 4-7 in Cedar Hill, Texas. A 3.5-day, intensive training course with hands on coverage of forensic restoration, the February workshop is the first step to ISSA-GBAC Certified Forensic Operator certification. Course topics include:

  • Insight into the meaning of forensic restoration,
  • Biosafety best practices for forensic operators,
  • PPE specifications,
  • Rules, regulations, and guidelines for this work,
  • And many more hands-on lessons.

Register today for the ISSA-GBAC Forensic Resotration Operator Training session at issa.com/events/issa-gbac-forensic-restoration-operator-training.