Q & A with a Crime Scene Cleaner

2 a.m.- Suicide

6 a.m.- Homicide

1 p.m.- Unattended Death

7 p.m.- Unattended Death

12 a.m.- Suicide

That’s a typical day’s work for Certified Bio-Recovery Master, Scott Vogel, 32. He has witnessed the unthinkable, but somehow walks out of it all able to go home and play with his two kids. How does he face death everyday? What are death’s seasonal trends? I recently chatted with Vogel, the President of Emergi-Clean, a bio-recovery business in New Jersey, as he traveled from a site to his home.

Walk me through a normal day.

I answer the phone calls 24 hours a day. We’re never experiencing a normal day because all of our work is emergency based. There’s always something happening where it puts a wrench into my day. For example, today, I had to go to the meeting in Amtrak which I wasn’t planning on doing, we had two cop cars come in today with blood, so we had a sewage job that my guys were going to do, but then we had to pull one guy off of that, so they could go do the cop cars. It’s always kind of changing day to day. You know the school stabbing in Brooklyn? We got that call at 4 o’clock at night; we had already dealt with two suicides in the day. We ended up working a 25-hour shift about 6 of us. That happens a lot more than people realize. It can get very time consuming.

Have you seen an increase in a particular type of death?

Not a particular type, but we do have periods of what’s higher. We have an increase in suicides in the end of October into middle November, then it tapers off a little bit. April is also high for suicides because after tax season. Unattended deaths are usually highest from April to September because people will have heat strokes. Our summers are more of your unattended deaths.

What do you think are the common misconceptions about the work you do?

The problem is that people think there is money in this. More people are jumping in on this without training. I just had a woman call me on Saturday asking if she cleaned it up right. Most likely, it seeps through the floor. They don’t understand the concept and the science behind it. They don’t understand chemicals and the amount of time required to clean something up like this. That’s the biggest misconception I think is if you’re not trained to do it, are you doing it right? Are you doing it safely? There is still a mass misconception that everybody and their brother and sister can do it. They need to understand rules and regulations. Its years of experience of how to deal with people emotionally, there is a whole concept of being a GOOD bio-remediation company.

Most troubling scene you’ve been on?

I really don’t know. I’ve seen people cut in half, I’ve seen mass shootings. A lot of people always ask me this same question. I’ve walked in on a scene where there probably were 600,000 maggots on the floor feeding off of a body. I’ve worked on a job where the body seeped through the floor, and you could see the imprint on the floor below. I’m so used to it. You name it, I’ve seen it. That’s the unfortunate condition of what you do, that I’ve actually physically seen almost everything.

What is your emotional response to these types of traumatic scenes?

 I became an EMT at 16. My emotional standpoint growing up was always to help. Public service was always my priority. How I handle everything is with the realization that I get to help people at their worst times. Some people can’t even imagine when you talk to someone and they say my son just killed himself or I just lost my father. These are all incidences where I’m getting a call at a wedding, when I’m sleeping at 2 o’clock in the morning, even when I’m at Disney. Being able to take care of the client, being able to, even if its me sitting down with an older woman as she lost her husband, if it’s a wife that just lost her husband to a suicide, we are there to really calm the people down, try to really restore a little bit, make their lives a little bit easier for the next five minutes so they don’t have to worry about coming home to the mess that’s left.


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