Advice on How to Hire a Provider

After a Veteran suicide, the survivors must not only deal with the shock of a sudden death, but with the sad fact that the remains must go ASAP. That’s the job of the Coroner’s office who is called to the scene by the police or EMTs. They’re usually the first call. The next call should be to a bio-hazard clean-up and then your homeowners insurance agent. Here’s a list of other calls to make.

We spoke with Ginger Akemon of Bio-One Duval County, a franchise bio hazard company located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Ginger spoke with Once A Soldier about what Veteran families of suicide need to know about calling a bio-hazard company. FYI: Once A Soldier’s time of need service can also take this task on for you, as well as call funeral homes to negotiate the price so you can focus on other needs.

urn for ashes

How to Hire from a Compassionate Industry Expert

OAS: What should family or friends do when they discover the body?

Ginger: Try not to touch anything. You never know what bio-hazards the blood may contain. You need to keep yourself safe. Let the experts, the coroner for example, do their jobs the best they can by avoiding the area.

Don’t blow any fans or A/C directly in the area.

Don’t touch the blood.

Don’t clean up yourself. No one needs that trauma added on.

OAS: What questions should they ask when they call around to find help?

Ginger: First off, call at least two companies or more if you don’t find what you’re looking for in terms of price and compassion. As far as price goes, let them know that your loved one was a Veteran. If appropriate, also let them know that they had PTSD. Most in our industry will be able to offer an immediate discount. If they don’t, ask for it anyway.

On the other hand, you want the better person, not the better price, to help at a time like this. Every one is different, so you need to find your own comfort level with each.

Make sure they licensed and insured.

Make sure they don’t leave anything behind.

If you find something later, even a speck of something outside, call them if you want it gone. Get the peace of mind you deserve.

OAS: Will homeowners or renters insurance cover the cost?

Ginger: Homeowners insurance will pay but there’s probably a deductible. Some bio hazard companies will also deal with the insurance companies for you. Ask if they will. If not, you’ll have to call your insurance agent and let them know that you have a claim.

Rental insurance doesn’t cover it. It’s sad but that’s why we try to be so compassionate. We’re in this business to make a living, not make a killing.

OAS: Do they give Veterans a discount?

Ginger: We do. My dad as in the Navy for 27 years. Most will but always ask for a discount or for them to waive the deductible, A reasonable deductible of $1,000 may be waiver. A $5,000 deductible is probably not going to get waived.

OAS: What gets cleaned and what gets removed?

Ginger: Everything affected. Walls, carpet, furniture, flooring, lamps, decorations. Bio hazard companies will clean everything on site. Hard items like furniture can be cleaned and saved.

Soft items like clothing, wood and cushions probably have to go depending on how long they’ve been sitting there with the bio hazard. Soft materials will soak up odors quickly. Critters, flies and insects start to arrive as the body decomposes. Odors can affect the whole house, that’s why you want to contain the air, if possible, and not blow it around.

Flooring, carpet or tile may also need to be removed. Try to remove only what you have to and save portions of the flooring if that makes sense. It’s okay to save money!

Gingers Last Word of Advice: The sooner you call a provider. Same day is best. Emotionally, remember that you’re not to blame because this happened. This is more important later on, but reactions now stay with you.

Thanks Ginger at BioOne in Jacksonville.

Bio-Hazard Terms Defined

Biohazard –  any type of biological waste or biological agent such as a virus or a condition that constitutes a threat to humans. Biohazards must be eliminated by professionals such as Bio-One Duval County otherwise they can cause serious health effects and continuous exposure, if not properly removed and cleared of any biohazards, can be lead to long term adverse health effects of unknown occupants

Biohazardous agent – a biological agent or condition (as an infectious organism or insecure laboratory procedures) that constitutes a hazard to humans or the environment

Biohazard remediation – cleanup and disinfection of any biohazard situation, including hoarding, commercial or industrial accidents, chemical spills, or contamination scenarios

Biological waste – is any material that contains or has been contaminated by a biohazardous agent

Suicide scene clean up – cleanup of blood, other bodily fluids such as urine, and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). It is also referred to as biohazard remediation, because crime scenes are only a portion of the situations in which biohazard cleaning is needed

Clean-up operation – when hazardous substances are removed, confined, stabilized, or in any other manner; with the vital goal of making the scene safer for people or the environment

Decontamination – the removal of hazardous substances to avoid or minimize potential dangerous health effects

Facility – any building or structure

Hazardous materials response (HAZMAT) – organized group of trained professionals, who handle and control actual or potential leakages or spills of hazardous substances; quite often requiring being very close to the substance

Infectious agent – something that invades another living thing (like a virus to a human). When an infectious agent “hitches a ride”, the “driver” officially become an infected host. There are four main classes of infectious agents: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites

Trauma – a deeply disturbing or distressing experience or physical injury



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