Monday, October 24, 2016

Is There Really A Threat?

Turn on the news. This month alone, there have been multiple terror attacks in Europe. There have been civil disobedience and riots in our own streets. Police Officers have been targeted and ambushed here in the United States. Despite reassurances to the contrary, the threat to peace and prosperity is growing. Whether it be terrorist organizations such as Daesh (ISIS) or domestic disturbances and riots, businesses and communities face danger on a daily basis.

In an article posted on Bloomberg ( on July 27th, they reported a grim warning from the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
“Hundreds of terrorists will fan out to infiltrate western Europe and the U.S. to carry out attacks on a wider scale as Islamic State is defeated in Syria, FBI Director James Comey warned.”
“At some point there’s going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said Wednesday in New York. “We saw the future of this threat in Brussels and Paris,” said the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, adding that future attacks will be on “an order of magnitude greater.”
In today’s world, acts of terror and civil unrest have become a grim reality. As the threat from transnational terrorist organizations evolves, the approach to emergency preparedness must evolve as well. Civil Defense Leaders must be able to detect, deter, delay, respond, and recover from events which threaten public safety, critical infrastructure, transportation mechanisms, and national resilience.

Terrorism is growing exponentially and groups such as ISIS are planning, coordinating, and inspiring small and large attacks worldwide.
  • Terrorist organizations are more frequently conducting attacks to undermine the strength, resolve, and national resilience of those countries, coalitions, and organizations that oppose them, and to gain support and recruits for their movements;
  • They are becoming emboldened and are using simultaneous, orchestrated attacks against soft targets in major population centers.
Social unrest has been bubbling to the surface of the news all over the country, and all over the world.
  • Violence born of debt, frustration, and politics could strike at any minute.
  • In the United States alone, there have been multiple instances of social unrest and rioting in the few months.
  • Even cities traditionally seen as calm, such as Singapore, have seen demonstrators spurred by social inequalities and political discontent taking to the streets.
  • Mass uprising and resistance is now easier to coordinate through smartphones and social media.
The threat is real. Communities, businesses, and Civil Defense organizations need to develop or update Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Response Plans now. Preparedness and Prevention not only save lives, they can be the difference in the life and continuity of operations for a business or community as well.

Friday, October 21, 2016

If you want to be ready; Train, Train, and Train

Professional athletes spend their time training and practicing so they can be the best at their chosen profession. Soldiers and militaries train endlessly to ensure they are prepared to do their jobs when called on. Our enemies also spend their time training. Have you ever watched any of the Daesh (Islamic State) training videos? While some of the videos are obvious propaganda films, they do demonstrate that we are facing a determined enemy who wants to do us harm and they are dedicating their time and energy to prepare.

While many people in the world feel the threat is not really that bad or it is a world away, recent events (Orlando, Brussels, Paris) show us that anyone and anyplace can be a target. It doesn’t have to be a “high profile” government building or military facility. Our enemies want to cause terror. They do it by hitting targets which may be an “abomination” to them such as a cafĂ©, a rock concert, or a night club or simply a target where they believe they can have the maximum effect. They choose a target that will cause a complete sense of fear and a lack of belief in security for our citizens. They prefer to hit “soft” targets to further their cause of making the population afraid and fearful. Look how our own country turned on itself immediately following the Orlando terror attack. That happened because of fear and political polarization which our enemies will exploit.

It has often been said that a determined enemy who is willing to give his life for a cause is the most dangerous person in the world. They have accepted that they may die committing their acts and are willing to accept that fate. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to stop every terror attack, and relying on government and local agencies to protect us at all times is not only irresponsible, it is illogical. Accept the reality that you, your business, or your loved ones may become a target, either by design, or as a target of opportunity. The only way to be prepared for this gruesome reality is to train.

In November Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) published a 14 minute training video reportedly filmed in a camp somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan. © NatroNet

Think of it in these terms. The photograph above shows Daesh fighters training. Did you train harder than they did today? The only way to be prepared is to train and if we are simply sitting by hoping nothing will happen, we will fail. Train like your life or your livelihood depend on it, because they just may.

Training can take many forms. The first obviously is physical training. As an individual, strive to train to get stronger, faster, and have more endurance. This can take many forms. Some people go to the gym and lift weights. Others go for a run, a bicycle ride, a hike, or swim. Others do yoga to work on strength, flexibility, and balance. The key is regularity and always looking at the world as a place to not just survive, but to thrive. While society has made it “improper” to say, nature has shown us the strong survive. While this may hurt some’s feelings, it is the truth. At some point we have to get over being so accommodating and careful of other’s feelings that we can no longer state the truth. Humans are the Apex Predator. There will always be someone who is stronger, faster, more agile, and just plain better physically than any of us. Don’t try and level the playing field and make everyone equal. Work hard and get stronger.

Another form of personal training is reaction drills and “combat” activities. Practice what you would do if someone broke into your house. Work with your spouse on disarming techniques; holster drills if you have weapons; loading and unloading in the dark. Also work on alternate weapons such as throwing knives, axes, stick fighting (with an improved weapon such as a broom), and unarmed combat. While this may seem over the top, considering what the average 911 response time is, if you wait for someone to arrive and save you, you may well not make it. Be prepared to take responsibility for your life and the lives of your loved ones should the time come. Pray that you will never need to, but is better to be ready and a survivor than a victim wishing you’d done more.
Yet another, often overlooked training technique is mental drills. Puzzles and challenges that cause you to think on your feet to overcome obstacles and situation. When you are out with your friends, spouse, or kids, pose challenging questions such as “A gunman just walked out of that store and fired shots. Where do you go and why?” Discuss their choices and find out “why” they said what they said. Listen to other’s decisions and reasoning. Then explain yours. This can often lead to learning and present multiple solutions that cause each of us to consider different aspects of the situation or environment we may not have considered. It also makes us think about these situations and look at the world differently. It develops the ability to solve complex problems and make quick decisions based on knowledge and the environment.

For businesses, training can take many forms as well. When was the last time you read your company’s Emergency Action Plan? Can you honestly say that you’ve ever done training on any of the items or tasks listed in the plan? Do you know where the plan is? What is the company’s plan in the event of a fire? An Active Shooter situation? What is the servers go down? How do you keep functioning?

Businesses often get complacent, have no vested interest, or have plans that meet minimum local, state, or federal requirements because they feel they will never face these situations. Very few people know of the plans or have any idea of what to do in the event of an emergency (besides picking up the phone and calling 911). Businesses, like individuals, are responsible to ensure they are prepared. Training is the key to that preparedness and the key to being able to recover with minimal losses in the event of an emergency.

Train. Train harder. Be prepared.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Day at the Office

You’re sitting at your desk, working on another spreadsheet, and your mind begins to wander. You’re thinking about the vacation you’re still trying to schedule, how the kids are doing at school and how you’re going to get home in time to go to the football game. Then you realize you’re going to have to eat lunch at your desk again today because the boss needs the data done by the end of the day. While you have a good job and are making a living, you realize that the exciting career you thought you were going to have is still out there. Maybe tomorrow you’ll look into it again…

Meanwhile, our phone rang at 2AM. It was a property manager who’s just gone thru one of the most traumatic experiences she’ll hopefully ever have to deal with. Her voice was shaky as she asked if she’s reached Winchester. After we reassured her that we are Winchester, she asked if we can come out to the apartment complex immediately. “There’s been an incident”.

We arrived on scene 30 minutes later. While the ambulance and police had recently departed, evidence of their visit was fresh. The discarded bandage wrappings, the pool of blood by the entrance…it all points to the tragedy that’s occurred inside.

The property manager met us on the sidewalk, briefly explained that the tenant tried to commit suicide and the informed us the police had cleared the scene. She asked if we can enter and let her know what needs to be done, politely refusing our offer to have her accompany us. We set down our safety bags and began the process of donning our personal protective equipment before we entered. The biohazard suit, the nitrile gloves, the shoe covers, the duct tape to seal all seams, the face shields and heavy outer gloves…all part of the protections we take because we know this scene is heavily contaminated.

And so began another “day at the office”.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Service

In lieu of our monthly newsletter we thought we would expound on our business in a different way and inform you about other aspects of our jobs.  We always support our local law enforcement because with out them that blanket of security that we must have, would be a lot thinner!
This week while at an evening meeting we received a call from a detective that we had worked with previously and he had some questions about a mysterious substance that he discovered in vehicle and the conversation went as follows:
Detective: Judd, this is Detective so and so, do you remember me?
Judd: Of course what can I help with?
Detective: We discovered something in a car and I remember an email you sent to the narcotics task force and I have some questions.
Judd: Shoot.
Detective: We found a one liter plastic bottle with a sludge in the bottom.  Is this what I think it is?
Judd: One or two liter plastic the caps have holes drilled in them?
Detective: Yes
Judd: Let me guess- you found plastic tubing as well?
Detective: Sure did.
Judd: Is there more than one bottle?
Detective:  Yes.
Judd: Does it have chalky residue?
Detective: With a laugh he says "What are you standing over my shoulder?!"
Judd: If you think its shake and bake Meth-it is. You can run chemical analysis but I guarantee its meth.
When we talk with large groups its very hard to cover every aspect of our jobs but this scenario is a great example of what Winchester Crime & Trauma is all about.  Not only do we handle body fluid bio-hazards we also have extensive knowledge in chemicals; what many do not know is that making meth is very dangerous as it can become very combustible if not properly ventilated.   The above example is the latest way of producing meth; this has quickly become a problem as it can be made almost anywhere making it challenging for local law enforcement to catch the culprits and often the remaining residue is thrown from the car onto city streets and sidewalks where now anyone can come across this potentially dangerous residue.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Unattended Death

What follows is a descriptive summary of an actual scene we’ve handled. Remember that we are professionals and equipped to handle this type of situation. As you read, imagine what it would have been like for a family member or other non-trained person to deal with this.

Imagine walking by your neighbor’s studio apartment in the middle of the day in August. You glance at his window and ponder why the glass is black. As you pass by, you realize you haven’t really seen him or heard anything from him for a few weeks. He is a quiet man and a bit of a loner, but you usually see him a few times during the week or at least hear his television late at night. Come to think of it, you haven’t even noticed his lights on at night when you get home from work.

Odd, isn’t it? You pause as you pass and notice movement on the glass – just a shimmer of something that catches your eye. Intrigued, you take a closer look and realize the glass is writhing by itself, almost like its alive. Morbid curiosity hits you and you lean closer. You catch a whiff of a peculiar odor that you can’t quite place just as you realize your hand is moving to the window. You can’t stop yourself as your index finger taps roughly on the glass. The dark covering on the inside of the window erupts inward in a swirl of black flies and you briefly catch a glimpse inside… What you see in that moment will stay with you for life.

It was the summer of 2008. After discovering his neighbor’s tragic fate, the young man immediately called 911. The sequence of events at that point followed the usual script. The police arrived, entered the premises, and discovered the man who occupied the studio apartment, or what was left of him, lying on his bed. The young officer who was first on the scene gagged several times from the overwhelming odor and the mass of insects infesting the room. He had never seen anything like it.

Decomposition had set in and the body had gone from the putrefying bloating stage to the point where the body cavities ruptured and connective tissue fell apart. It’s also at this stage where insect activity becomes most prevalent.

The mass of flies in the air was nothing compared to the slippery carpet of maggots where the cavities had ruptured.

When the coroner arrived, they retrieved the deceased man, searching for and finding the majority of parts that sloughed off during the breakdown of the skin and connective tissue. What was left was the putrefied body fluids and everything they came in contact with…not to mention the odor.

When he passed away in his sleep, the man was on his bed in the main room. His decomposing body had soaked through his mattress, the box spring, and into the carpet below. The carpet was teeming with insects. They were prevalent both on the surface and between the carpet and pad, below the pad, and had worked their way under the linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom. His bodily fluids had made it all the way down to the concrete subfloor, and once reaching there, had pooled and spread throughout the studio apartment. Almost 2 gallons of bodily fluids had escaped the body through fissures, cracks, and ruptures in the skin.

As he slept, he also laid his arm on the wall next to him. The fluids which leaked from there saturated the dry wall, soaked through to the sound board beneath, and affected the wooden framing. It completely soaked the sill plates, affecting the sound board and drywall on the adjoining wall.

All of these physical aspects of the man’s death were almost tolerable. It was the odor which was the most difficult to bear. In such a small space, with no real airflow, in the heat of the summer, it was the odor which caused even the most experienced of the responders to fight back the immediate urge to gag. When they finally removed the body, the staff wore full faced carbon filtered supplied air respirators to combat the smell of death.

The coroner reported the man had been deceased for 12-15 days at the point he was found. With no nearby family, the property manager was left to deal with the situation. They immediately notified there insurance company who reached out to us. Could we handle this job? Could we be there that evening to take a look? How soon could we get an estimated cost and start work? Would we be able to get rid of the odor?

We arrived on scene that evening, immediately started decontamination to combat the odor and insects, and got the work done the next day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why Choose Winchester?


The crime scene cleanup industry has many rules but little oversight. There are currently companies operating throughout the nation and our local area that are not properly licensed or qualified to perform biohazardous waste removal and transport. Make sure the company you contract with is legally operating in your area!

Winchester Crime and Trauma Recovery possesses ALL required licenses and meets and exceeds OSHA, EPA, and WDNR standards for cleaning, transporting, and disposing of biohazardous and HAZMAT material.

Failure to properly clean up a crime or death scene can have serious consequences, with both legal and civic liability. The health and safety of those involved can be at risk. Whether it is the workers charged with performing the cleanup, the residents or tenants occupying the location following the event, or the property owners who must deal with all the repercussions of a traumatic event, the risk is too high to have the work done improperly.

In accordance with Wisconsin State Statutes and OSHA Regulations, an improperly cleaned property can present a viable human health hazard. According to Wisc. Stat. 254.01(2) a "human health hazard" means a substance, activity or condition that is known to have the potential to cause acute or chronic illness, to endanger life, to generate or spread infectious diseases, or otherwise injuriously to affect the health of the public. Improperly or un-remediated biohazard or HAZMAT incidents present these conditions.

What are the rules and consequences?

Failure to properly clean up a crime or death scene can have serious repercussions, both legally and for the health and safety of those involved.  Whether it be the workers charged with performing the cleanup, the residents or tenants occupying the location following the event, or the property owners who must deal with all the repercussions of a traumatic event.  In accordance with Wisconsin State Statutes and OSHA Regulations, a property improperly cleaned can present a viable human health hazard.  According to Wisc. Stat. 254.01(2)  a "human health hazard" means a substance, activity or condition that is known to have the potential to cause acute or chronic illness, to endanger life, to generate or spread infectious diseases, or otherwise injuriously to affect the health of the public.  Improperly or unremediated conditions present this with bodily fluids and tissue fragments on site.  A detailed cleaning must occur in stages with quaternary biocide, a disinfectant treatment, and inspection to accurately locate and remediate all potentially infectious conditions.  Additionally, because of the physics involved with body decomposition, the potential for significant contamination outside the immediate impact area is generally very high.

The  Bloodborne pathogens which may be present  include, but are not limited to: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), Non A, Non B Hepatitis, Syphilis, Malaria, Babesiosis, Brucellosis, Leptospirosis, Arboviral infections, Relapsing fever, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, Human T-lymphotrophic Virus Type 1, Viral hemorrhagic fever, and Hanta-Virus.

According to OSHA 29CFR1910.1030, workers who are exposed to these Hazards, and their employers, MUST meet the following standards:

1.       Receive bloodborne pathogen (BBP) training.

2.       Have a written BBP exposure control plan.

3.       Have been provided personal protective equipment (PPE).

4.       Have been offered Hepatitis B vaccine and exposure evaluation and follow-up.

5.       Been provided with a method to remove and properly store the biohazardous waste in properly marked containers for disposal at an approved site.

It is also important to remember that waste generated from these cleanups meet the definition of Regulated Waste. Regulated Waste (per OSHA) is defined as liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials; contaminated items that would release blood or other potentially infectious materials in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; items that are caked with dried blood or other potentially infectious materials and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; contaminated sharps; and pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or other potentially infectious materials. Please note it does not matter how old blood, body fluids or tissue may be, OSHA still considers them Regulated Waste.

According to both OSHA and the WDNR, Regulated Waste must be placed in containers that are: Closable; Constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage of fluids during handling, storage, transport or shipping; Labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraphs 29 CFR 1910.1030 (g)(1)(i); Closed prior to removal to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(B)(1)(i)-(iv)].  Additionally, regulated waste must be handled, transported by a licensed carrier, and disposed of at a licensed facility in accordance with WDNR NR 526.  Placing this regulated waste in a public container is a gross violation of both OSHA and Wisconsin
State Statutes and if not remedied, places the building occupant, any personnel coming  in contact with the container, and city waste management workers at significant risk.

The potential liability for a property owner is extensive.  First and foremost, by hazing a non-trained, non-protected employee attempt to clean up the scene, the potential for OSHA fines exists in the following areas:

· Bloodborne Pathogen Non-Compliance:  up to $70,000

· PPE Rule Non-Compliance:  up to $70,000

Additionally, the Regulated Waste Non-Compliance falls under both the WDNR and OSHA and could result in fines of up to $27,500 per violation per day.

Lastly, allowing occupation of a building that is a public health hazard could result in fines from $5 to $50 per day or 30 days in jail.

Perhaps even more significant is the civil liability which could occur.  The family of the deceased could potential sue for mental anguish as the deceased remains were not handled appropriately.  The worker who cleans the scene could potentially sue a property manager for making them do unsafe work, not providing the proper equipment and safety material, and for any physical effects, long-term chronic illness such as Hepatitis, and for mental distress for having to deal with the situation.  Additionally, if the property is not treated, any tenants also have a strong basis for civil claims against a property owner.