Straight Talk: Forensic Restoration During COVID-19 [Video]
NORTHBROOK, Ill.—April 10, 2020—In this edition of Straight Talk with Jeff Cross, Jeff Jones of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, discusses best practices for forensic restoration professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones, a certified bio-forensic restoration specialist and forensic operator, noted a troubling statistic recently while watching Fox News: The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that calls to its mental health line have gone up 894% in recent weeks. Jones reflected on the staggering number of people who must be struggling right now: “We know that many people reached out for help; how many have not?”
Jones explains that throughout history, incidents of suicide have increased when the economy was under duress. In this period where the economy is at an unprecedented standstill and people are asked to isolate themselves for long periods of time while also facing fear and anxiety about the pandemic itself, it is not surprising that mental health calls are on the rise. Jones points out that some people facing extreme hardship may also self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. “You can see an increase in [suicides], you can see an increase in domestic violence and criminal activity, and all of these definitely will affect the industry of forensic restoration,” said Jones. The coronavirus issue is affecting people globally.
Jones says that forensic restorers are “caretakers of the human condition.” They handle the scene with respect and dignity while making the environment once again clean and safe for occupancy. With COVID-19 spreading throughout the population, often asymptomatically, there is the possibility that any victim could be carrying the virus and therefore contaminate the environment.
For frontline workers performing forensic restoration, it’s essential to acquire “critical incident data: who, what, when, where, how” on the initial phone call, as well as whether the victim was tested for COVID-19. If the answer is unknown, Jones said forensic restoration specialists must assume that this may be an infected environment, and then consider how that will affect their procedures and protocols and their entrance and exit strategies for the site.
Jones explains that the prime directive of forensic restoration is safety: “safety for the team of operators going into the incident site and safety for all future occupants.” Bio-forensic restoration specialists must be trained and certified to perform this work, and that training becomes even more important during a pandemic. “Students learn; warriors train,” said Jones. “Have no doubt in your mind, this is microbial warfare.” In the early days of the pandemic, GBAC hosted specialized hands-on training in Dallas where forensic operators suited up in PPE and practiced using proper protocols for forensic cleaning, testing, disinfecting, and more.
In-person trainings are on hold during social distancing, but professionals can enroll in the GBAC Fundamentals Online Course on Microbial Warfare or visit the GBAC website for future hands-on training opportunities. Also be sure to visit the ISSA resource page where you can access all of GBAC’s coronavirus tip sheets and other current information about COVID-19.
Watch the complete episode of Straight Talk with Jeff Cross below, and find more Straight Talk episodes on cleanfax.com.