The Cleaning Guys are used to dealing with nasty stuff like fuel and chemical spills and crime scenes.
But Thursday’s job was a first for the Fort Worth-based branch of the Texas company.
The Guys were hired to decontaminate a Dallas apartment where a Liberian national with Ebola stayed for a few days before he was hospitalized.
Friday morning, a crew pulled into the apartment complex with a 36-foot trailer hauling safety equipment, respirators and decontamination materials.
Workers dressed in yellow protective suits sealed up a car and dealt with items outside the apartment in the morning. They started working on the inside in the afternoon.
“Our company is doing the initial cleanup of the soiled items,” said Brad Smith, the company’s vice president. “We’re bagging and removing items from the apartment.”
Photos posted on Twitter by the city of Dallas showed linens, clothes and mattresses being cut into pieces, then triple-bagged and tied.
Smith declined to go into details about what he saw inside the apartment but said the crew of about dozen workers was taking precautions.
“This is obviously such a new thing. But biohazard is not a new thing,” Smith said. “When it comes to the Ebola virus, we’re just following the CDC protocols and going a step above the normal recommendations.”
Smith said his company works closely with fire departments and other emergency responders across the region, and they were aware that Homeland Security and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials were briefing Dallas Fire Department personnel about the need to clean up the apartment.
The realization that his company might get tapped for the job sparked a flurry of conversations around his office, Smith said.
“We’ve all been watching the news like everyone else,” Smith said.
After discussing the pros and cons of the operation, a decision was made to accept the job if it was offered, Smith said.
“In the back of our minds, we knew the phone could ring and the phone rang,” Smith said.
What they completed Friday was only phase one of the operation, Smith said. Any day now, Smith said he expects another briefing from Homeland Security and CDC officials.
In phase one the crews removed bedding, linen and clothing, and placed them in garbage bags, sealed those, and placed those in plastic drums partially filled with bleach, and then sealed those, too, Smith said.
Smith said he is awaiting protocol instruction from federal officials, but expects a deeper cleaning of the apartment; more decontamination and sterilization work is next on the agenda.
The county doesn’t have the proper permits to dispose of the Ebola-tainted material from the apartment. For now, the items in industrial barrels will be held under law enforcement protection at an undisclosed storage facility in the county.
“We will be following CDC guidelines, and I defer to them,” Smith said.
The crew’s protective suits were to be burned after the job is complete, said Tamara Smith, the company’s business manager.
CG Environmental — Cleaning Guys has 38 employees at its DFW locations and has offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.
Staff writer Bill Hanna contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.