Reddit user Lotsofshi has a dirty job. He recently did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on the site about his work as a “Biohazard Remediation Technician aka CTS Decon Specialist (Crime and Trauma Scene Decontamination).”
In his job, he specializes in cleaning up and decontaminating crime scenes from homicides, suicides, decomposing bodies (aka “unattended deaths”), industrial accidents, hoarders, tear gas, and other trauma, he wrote.
He applied to the job on a whim after growing to hate his desk job.He says there aren’t really any certifications to do the job, other than being able to follow OSHA requirements.
Here are some of the most interesting responses from his AMA:
The worst thing you’ve ever seen? (Question from Chtulhu_Cult)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “The “grossest” per se would have to be an unattended death (natural cause) in a small trailer and the victim wasn’t found for over 2 months. I swear, it was a nightmare in that place. Dark, no power, and about 15,000+ flies and maggots everywhere. Flesh dripping from the walls and ceiling. Also, he was a hoarder.”
Lotsofshi’s answer: “I had to cleanup after a gruesome triple murder last year. A woman who ran a daycare was murdered in her home along with her parents, all execution style. It wasn’t that the scene itself was bad, but the fact that it was clear what happened, especially in a home run daycare, when children were present. Blood on the children’s toys, the fact that the woman was well respected in her community, and her parents were disabled… just depressing all around.”
Why would you do this job? (Question from noargumenthere)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “I’d have to say the challenge and a fascination with the extraordinary. Also, helping grieving families in their darkest hour is very rewarding as well.”
Do you clean at home? (Question from medianbailey)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “My girlfriend likes to clean, but if she doesn’t feel like it she will try to use my profession as leverage to get me to clean… I used to when I let her take advantage of me like that. Not anymore! Doesn’t work. Now I tell her to go kill someone and I’ll gladly clean it up, with a family and friends discount!”
Do you get used to the smell?
Lotsofshi’s answer: “Unless you’re a necrophiliac, nobody ever truly gets accustomed to the smell of a decaying corpse, as it’s essentially an evolutionary no-no. So after dealing with several of those in a row, in the hot summer sun… it gets annoying.”
What’s the pay like? (Question from ngryan)
Lotsfshi’s answer: “Typical starting pay is around $25/hour. That’s given actual job time. Driving to each scene in the company vehicle is a different pay rate. Certainly room to increase that exponentially. I make more than this, but then again it depends on how often jobs come through that determines yearly pay.”
What was your first clean-up job? (Question from Jbones159)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “Shotgun suicide. It was certainly a nice introduction to the industry!
“Boss: ‘And you see here? There’s so much velocity from that shell at point blank that skull fragments will embed themselves in the wall. Grab the pliers and drywall knife.'”
Are there any secrets to dampening the smell of rotting corpses? (Question from tiddlyf**ksh*t)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “Pine-Sol, baby!
“Depends. Contaminated porous material, you can pretty much forget about it and your best bet is to throw it away or let it air [out] and forever be musky.
“Non-porous contaminated material is easier. Just a 3 step cleaning process and if it’s really bad and cannot be removed (such as house structure) we use heavy duty epoxy. Many layers most times.
“Death smell permeates everything. It’s astounding.”
Have you ever laughed at a crime scene? (Question from atlas1324)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “Oh absolutely! I do it all the time. Not when the customer is around, of course. But it’s all within reason (mostly). It’s a coping mechanism of sorts. Have to add humor to the job when you’re cleaning up brains from a ceiling all day long.”
What does death smell like? (Question from Grabold27)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “It’s one of those things where it’s a smell in and of itself. If you’ve ever smelled roadkill up close, it’s that.. but worse. It’ just plain putrid and has a tendency to trigger the gag reflex. It’s the strongest, most pungent odor I’ve ever come across.”
Do you do “freelance work” (which we are assuming means before the cops get involved)? (Question from NinjaDiscoJesus)
Lotsofshi’s answer: “Hmmm… not sure exactly what you’re considering “freelance work”. But to answer that, no. Everything I’ve done was through the company I work for.
“Although my buddy and I have joked that I need to post a vague “I’ll clean up anythingprofessionally, no questions asked” ad on Craigslist and see what happens! Haha.”