Healthy Indoors Magazine

HI Jan 2019

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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Healthy Indoors | 23 rather than a heavy-duty respirator. This business sometimes requires a cold disposition and a strong stomach, but Vogel has only one of the two. With his rosy cheeks and an infectious smile, Vogel seems like the type of father who sits front row in the bleachers at every one of his daughter's soccer games. On the road to the job site, he shows me a video of his three-year-old daughter, talks about his love of college football (he's a UCF Knights fan), and cracks jokes about his family's unique business— "It's like Duck Dynasty…with blood!" Vogel's family-first attitude governs his work life as well. The bio-recovery business was started by his father, Ron- ald, who saw a need for a professional biohazard com- pany while serving as a volunteer EMT in New Jersey. He founded Emergi-Clean in 1995. Vogel was drawn to helping others and became an EMT himself at age 16. His dad's initial hesitancy about his son joining the family business led Vogel to pursue a master's degree in crimi- nal research from the University of Central Florida. After working an unfulfilling government job, Vogel took over his father's business in 2010. Vogel speaks quickly and is never at a loss for words— not even at 6 am. He brags about his new black Chevy Tra- verse that his wife begged him to buy to replace his old pick- up, which was basically a billboard for Emergi-Clean. "She didn't want me dropping off my daughter at daycare with a big blood drop on my car," he says with a shrug. While he no longer drives a vehicle emblazoned with a cartoon blood drop named Bloodsie, Vogel still sports a Bloodsie logo on his black windbreaker and hangs the same decal on his Traverse's rear view mirror. A few decades ago, crime scene cleanup businesses like Vogel's were nearly nonexistent. Today, hundreds of independent companies have multiplied across the coun- try. But while many films such as Sunshine Cleaning and Cleaner paint the new, highly competitive industry to be a simple source of income, the business of cleaning up after death requires much more than rubber gloves and Lysol. Vogel is on call 24/7 and has about 500 jobs a year. His days are far from routine since his work is emergen- cy-based. He works alongside nine full-time employees and 15 to 18 per diem men. On this early December morning, Vogel receives six calls during the 90-minute drive to the crime scene. A com- plaint of bat feces in an attic. A query about an upcoming suicide cleanup. And more mundane calls, like his wife's concerns about the new washer/dryer they purchased on Black Friday. "There are incidences where I'm getting a call at a wed- ding or when I'm at Disney with my kids," he says about his unexpected schedule. He takes the call and drops his plans because for him the job is about more than cleaning up. "Someone com- mitted suicide. I put everything aside because right there and then, I'm helping somebody going through the worst time of their life." Helping grieving families cope accounts for half of the job. "I get to help people at their worst times," Vogel says, with a hint of pride. "I can't sit down and cry with a family, but I am going to be there to explain that we are there to help and that we understand." On this particular morning, Vogel assesses the scene before his technicians. He never really knows the severity of the scene he is walking into. "I don't want my technicians to know the full story," he explains. "I want them to go in and do their job, not to picture certain things or look for clues." Vogel preps his technicians before particularly gruesome scenes (Courtesy of Scott Vogel/Emergi-Clean Inc.) Next, he documents everything for insurance and fam- ily purposes. Homeowner's insurance normally covers the cost of crime-scene cleanup, unless the death is self-inflict- ed, so people can continue to live in the home or sell if that's what they prefer. Most jobs take 9 to 12 hours and average $12,000. A lead supervisor like Vogel charges $144 per hour, while Vogel's basic technicians earn $126 per hour. The cleanup is sometimes the easy part for Vogel. What's more difficult is learning personal histories and stories. It's the hand-drawn picture of a flower labeled for Grandpa or the messy fold in the floral comforter that remind Vogel and

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