Graduates handle death scenes

By Cheryl Poynor

Cleaning up the remains of a bathroom suicide is probably not everyone’s idea of a great job.

But for 22-year-old NIU graduate Adam Patterson, it was an opportunity he simply could not resist.

“One of those jobs that you don’t know if you can do until you do it,” he said.

Along with two of his other close friends, Dan Abbott, 22, and Jon Kuo, 22, Patterson formed Bio-Tec Chicago, an emergency service branched from the nationwide company Bio-Tech.

Patterson graduated from NIU with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Abbott with a bachelor’s in psychology and Kuo will graduate in December with a bachelor’s in music.

Bio-Tech began in 1992 and became nationwide soon after. It is the largest biohazardous emergency service.

Basically, what the team does is clean up crime scenes. It responds to calls that deal with suicide, homicide, biohazard and garbage cleanup.

The first call they received took them to Milwaukee. The team hopped in its car with the supplies in the trunk.

The call was for a suicide that took place in the bathroom of a home. When they arrived at the scene, six family members were gathered at the house, Patterson said. The team suited up in biohazard suits and began cleaning with meticulous detail.

“You have to have the mind-set that it doesn’t bother you,” he said.

Although they have never seen any of the bodies, they have been exposed to outlines of bodies and bone fragments.

“What we strive for the most is to be professional,” Patterson said.

At the scenes, the team tries not to get emotionally involved in their cases. The families, as one could imagine, are very emotional sometimes.

“It’s not something everybody can handle,” Patterson said.”You have to be emotionally strong enough to talk to the family, and in no way escalate the situation.”

Job length varies anywhere between two hours and multiple days, depending on the scene. The team gets about one job a week.

As for the pay, the team couldn’t say, but they said in 10 years, they could stop working, and just run other teams and make phone calls. They hope to continue to be as successful in the future as they have been the first month of their business.

“Having thankful families is what’s most gratifying,” Kuo said.

Soon, the team hopes to interview more NIU students to get a general feel of who they think might be able to handle the job, and build another team.

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