Who is responsible for cleaning up a traumatic road traffic accident?

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions on travel, road accidents dramatically decreased in the year to June ‘21. According to Government stats, there were 1,390 reported road deaths, a decrease of 11% compared to the year ending June ‘20 and there were 119,850 casualties of all severities, a decrease of 9% compared to the year ending June ‘20.

However dramatic the decline, 121,240 people were still involved in a road traffic accident (RTA) and with each incident a potential trauma clean may be required. So when RTA’s occur, who’s involved in cleaning up the trauma scene? This article aims to answer exactly that question.

What does a traumatic RTA scene look like?

A traumatic road traffic accident (RTA) scene can be a grisly and disturbing sight. It’s important to remember that these scenes are handled by professionals who have been trained to deal with the aftermath of such an event in terms of both the physical aspect as well as the emotional. If you’re unfortunate enough to witness a traumatic RTA, please do not attempt to clean up the scene yourself. Leave it to the experts.

Who is involved in trauma cleaning?

When it comes to trauma cleaning, there are a few different professionals who might play a role and be called in to assist. These include: 

  • Police officers
  • Paramedics
  • Firefighters 
  • Vehicle removal companies
  • Highways agency
  • Trauma scene cleaners 

The trauma scene cleaners are the ones who are responsible for the actual physical clean-up of the scene.

From a trauma cleaning perspective, what is the remediation process?

Graham Hickman from the trauma cleaning company Complete Environmental Services explains “No two trauma scenes are the same when it comes to road traffic accidents, however the clean up process remains fairly constant.”

The remediation process for a traumatic RTA scene will vary depending on the specific situation. However, it generally involves the following steps:

  • Assessing the scene and determining the level of trauma that has been inflicted
  • Removing any bodies or body parts from the scene
  • Cleaning up any blood or other bodily fluids from any aspect of the highway or affected property and land.
  • Disposing of any medical waste
  • Sanitising the area

Graham goes on to say “Our goal is to support the highways agency and emergency services to both deal with the consequences of an RTA in a rapid but safe manner with the ultimate aim of reopening the road as quickly as possible”.

What are some of the health risks associated with trauma scene cleaning?

There are a number of health risks associated with trauma scene cleaning, including exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses, skin irritations, and respiratory problems. It’s important to wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when cleaning up a trauma scene. When attempting to clean a trauma incident on a highway there’s also potential dangers from a traffic management perspective too. 

What are some of the psychological effects of witnessing a traumatic event?

Witnessing a traumatic event can have a number of psychological effects, including shock, disbelief, anxiety, guilt, and depression. Trauma cleaners are specially trained to deal with the emotional aftermath of a traumatic event, and have support structures provided to them through their employers. It’s important to their health and well being that this support exists so that they may seek professional help if they are experiencing any of these symptoms.