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Mother-son duo open crime scene decontamination business to help families after trauma

911 Knoxville Decontamination Services opened its doors earlier this month.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A mother and son teamed up to do a job many people would not want to do:  cleaning up after crime scenes. 

After law enforcement leaves a scene, the team steps in to protect families from even more trauma. 

Once the mother retired, she told her son she'd help devote all her time to creating a new business and for the past 20 months they've been doing just that. On November 1, 911 Knoxville Decontamination Services opened its doors.

"You should never try to do it by yourself," said director of operations Paullette Thomas about families who try to clean up crime scene by themselves. 

After law enforcement officials pack up and leave a crime scene, that scene is still left, in some cases. 

"We go in when the police department's left, when the family doesn't want to go in and clean it," she said. 

Whether it's events like a homicide or suicide, or other things like infectious diseases, hoarding or tear gas, Thomas and her son Daniel are ready just a call away. 

While the scene will never be the same, their job is to at least try to put it back together. 

"Families are left with this disaster that happened in their house and no one to clean up afterwards," said Daniel, who is the assistant director of operations. 

"They don't have the proper equipment and training to clean it up. It's definitely a need," said Thomas. "We are Knoxville. We want to help Knoxville, Knox County, East Tennessee people."

It's a job that doesn't come easy, but having family by their side, makes it a little better. 

"If she goes through a rough call I'm there to help her and same with me," said Daniel who is only 18, but has a strong passion for helping others. He started working with volunteer emergency services when he was 13. 

"I love the fact that he has such a love for the community and he's all out for helping," said Thomas about her son. 

The two don't do it alone, they've got two more experts, Teri Stiles and Will Steward by their side. 

"We are proud to be in Knoxville and helping the community in many different ways," said Thomas. 

Because they work closely with the aftermaths of suicides, 911 Knoxville Decontamination Services is hosting a suicide prevention seminar in partnership with Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network December 17 at 2 p.m. 

The seminar will be at their headquarters at 3309 E. Gov. John Sevier Highway in Knoxville.

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