Office Spotlight: Northern California Death Scene Cleanup

NorCal Aftermath team in front of Aftermath van.

Located the Northern California suburb of Rancho Cordova, just outside the bustling metropolis of Sacramento, the NorCal Aftermath Office is a hub of activity. Supervisor Brett Mathews keeps things running smoothly in the warehouse, while another Supervisor, Gary Clark, is also on staff.

Because of it’s rather central location, the NorCal has a wide service area; the two teams have performed jobs as far south as Bakersfield and as far west as Salt Lake City, UT. They’ve also assisted on cases in Portland, Oregon and other neighboring states. The majority of their work is much closer, however; the Bay area has a large population, which increases the need for biohazard cleanup services. The majority of jobs concern cases of decomposition, a tragic scenario which has become increasingly common and more problematic due to the unusual heatwave currently impacting the region. “It’s definitely increased the number of cases we see,” Brett comments.

Brett’s education and employment background create a combination ideal for an Aftermath supervisor. He is an active member of the Army Reserves, where he serves as a 74D Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist. He is also finishing his degree in psychology and criminal justice. Prior to joining Aftermath, he was a Supervisor for UPS. “My education is part of what got me interested in joining Aftermath,” he says. “I was working as supervisor for UPS when a recruiter contacted me. The idea of helping the community hit me on a personal note. I liked working with UPS, but I wanted to give back and do something to help others. When the offer came in, I jumped at the chance.”

Brett notes that the biggest difference between his previous job and working with Aftermath have been overwhelmingly positive. “I get to work with people, not just employees. I feel like making a difference, that I am not just a cog in the wheel.” There are still some things that take getting used to, though. When asked what he finds to be the biggest challenge on any job, Brett answers quickly: “The odor. There’s nothing like the smell of decomposition. It’s unbearable. If there’s any reason to call in the pros, this is it.”

When Brett joined the team in June, Regional Supervisor Chris Craig was on hand to provide training and insight. Since then, Brett has an opportunity to formulate his own approach, hiring employees and creating his own team. “First and foremost, I look for someone who is flexible. Death scene cleaners work in a 24/7 environment. I need someone who is used to being on the go.” He describes his ideal staff as those who have a desire and willingness to learn and want to work hard and apply that new info on job. “Prior experience working with PPE is also a big plus,” Brett reports.

In addition to Supervisors Brett and Gary, the current NorCal Aftermath office consists of Michael Prestwich, Back-Up Supervisor, and technicians Michael Dolan, Don Lewis, Patrick Whichard, and Cassandra Gooding. Just recently, they also added a second Back-Up Supervisor, Kenneth Hayes, to the team. Like the Supervisors, many of the crew are also military veterans.

Though he’s rather new to the company, Brett has already had a few memorable experiences. He recounts one situation that occurred while he was providing a quote to a customer. The man had just lost his sister, and had flown in from out of state to handle the family estate and manage the cleanup. “He was a big man, very strong, about 6’4. Just as we were finishing up, he started talking about how difficult his sister’s death was for him – and then he asked for a hug. We stood there and hugged it out for awhile and he cried a lot. It was pretty intense.”

Aftermath’s Northern California Death Scene Cleanup team is just one part of our nationwide network of cleaning specialists. Since 1996, we have worked with thousands of families and businesses to provide a sense of safety and security following tragic and difficult circumstances such as unattended death, communicable disease outbreaks, and other biohazard situations. For professional assistance in California and elsewhere, please call 877-872-4339. Our technicians are on hand 24/7 to best serve you.