Aftermath’s Tacoma office is housed in a warehouse and industrial park, nestled among other businesses. It’s a busy, bustling area of the city, with a theme park and the Tacoma Dome just a short drive away. “We cover the Washington area, including cities like Seattle and Yakima,” says Aftermath Tacoma supervisor Ashley Rene. “We also do jobs in Montana, Oregon and Idaho. We’ve worked with customers as far away as Billings, MT.”
Ashley is no stranger to cleaning difficult situations – or to working with the bereaved. Before joining the Aftermath team, she was employed at a retirement home. “We had a lot of terminally ill and very elderly patients. I felt at ease speaking to their families.” She also flipped houses on the side with a relative, which gave her some experience with both construction work and cleaning. “I saw some of the worst cases of hoarding when I was in the real estate market.”
In February of 2014, Ashley took the position of field technician at the Seattle office. When Tacoma opened shop a short time later, she helped get the new team up and running. When the former supervisor left, Ashley was the natural choice for his replacement. Asked what drew her to crime scene cleanup as a career, she repeats what many supervisors say: “I really wanted to do something that would help make a difference. I wanted to see a change in people’s lives.”
In the last year, Ashley and her team have done just that. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed, either. Recently one of their jobs was spotlighted on the West Seattle Blog. “It was a big hoarding job,” she reports. “The neighbors were very grateful. They stopped to thank us while we worked, and told us how happy they were to see the place getting cleaned up. We remediated over 3000 dirty needles, and piles garbage to ceiling.” The property had belonged to a hoarder, and when the resident passed away, squatters moved in. After months of standing vacant, local authorities finally took possession of the home, and called Aftermath to perform the cleanup.
Hoarding situations are fairly common in the Pacific Northwest. A large population of squatters in cities like Seattle also increase the number of biohazard related cleanups. Ashley relates: “We have many repeat clients, and a few big contracts with companies that own large tracts of land. We deal a lot with potentially infectious and hazardous waste.”
Aftermath prides itself on safety; all technicians are trained to follow state and federal laws when it comes to precautions such as PPE, and the proper disposal of sharps and other biohazards. However, Ashley says the work itself isn’t the most difficult aspect of the job. Rather, it’s the unpredictability of the schedule. “I have two daughters who are 5 and 6. When a call comes in, I have to get them over to a relative’s fast. Depending on the call, I might be away for multiple days and nights. I wasn’t used to being on call 24/7. It’s taken some getting used to.”
When it came to finding employees for the Tacoma shop, Ashley says she looked for those who were used to tougher hours, and able to work with families who are experiencing sometimes traumatic circumstances. Her current team consists of Eric DeLavergne, a former paramedic and the office’s backup supervisor. Also on staff are technicians Seth Gillis and Trinity Melendez, who used to be a 911 operator.
Despite the long days, Ashley finds her career satisfying in ways no ordinary job can be. “When we go in and clean a home or business, it’s rewarding to know it will never be the same way again. Things will get better, and we help make that happen.” For more information on joining the Aftermath crew in your area, check out our careers page.
If you’re looking for crime scene cleanup or biohazard cleaning in Tacoma, Washington, you can reach Ashley and her crew by calling our nationwide number: 877-872-4339. Aftermath Technicians are available 24/7 to better serve you, whether you live in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest or on the east coast. Start yourself and your family or business on the road to healing and recovery by calling us today.