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Who cleans and how after major terrorist attacks and air crashes

Robert Jensen built a career, establishing order after major misfortunes: identifying the remains, taking care of the families of the victims and restoring their personal belongings.

Фото: Depositphotos

The publication told about how he became the best specialist in the worst job in the world. GQ.

Jensen is the man the companies call when the worst happens. The worst means all those events that inspire such horror and panic that most people prefer not to think about them - for example, plane crashes, terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Jensen has no special gift for collecting bodies, identifying personal belongings, or talking to family members of the victims. What he has is experience. For his long career, Jensen has earned a reputation as the best in this unusual business for decades. Being the owner of the company "International Emergency Service Kenyon "(Kenyon International Emergency Services) Jensen receives from 6 to 20 applications per year worldwide. Because of his work, he is constantly involved in the events that give rise to the saddest headlines of modern history. He was involved in the funeral after the Oklahoma bombing, he flew straight to the Pentagon after the events of September 11 and participated in the search for bodies, when Katrina hurricane passed.

The helicopter crash in Peru in the 2008 year, after which he also cleaned, did not get into international news, but this mission was memorable for Jensen because of its complexity. Everything was sticky from the heat, danger of the jungle lurked everywhere. Jensen decided that the team would move in pairs, fearing pumas and snakes. They had to go on foot, because the accident site in the mountains did not leave an opportunity to get there by air. Before the release, he conducted a risk assessment and found out that 23 of a kind of poisonous snake lives on this territory. He had only three antidotes, so he called on the members of his team to try to lose consciousness before they could have a good look at exactly who had bitten them, in case this happens.

They were there to collect everything they could - personal items, fragments of skeletons, and any evidence that would help the families of the deceased understand how their families ended their days. Before all this was done, they needed to get to the place. Jensen works as efficiently as possible: all possible difficulties have already been addressed and resolved in a military manner in cold blood. Jensen instructed his team to start clearing the landing site for the helicopter, and for climbers to stretch the ropes up the slope so that they could climb up and down. Each piece they collected in containers, then to transfer to the archaeologist, who sifted them in search of fragments of bones. To an inexperienced eye, it seemed that nothing valuable could be found: the flight data recorder had already been extracted, and it was clear that there were no survivors. Still, Jensen was looking.

In total, he and his team collected 110 skeletal fragments on the mountain, as well as some personal items and a recording device from the pilot's cabin. The remains found by the company Kenyon, allowed to identify almost everyone who was on board, that when working with high-speed catastrophes - a rarity and a sign of skill. Every night, the team buried what it found, arranging moments of silence. The next morning, all the remains were exhumed, and they were taken away by helicopter, and the team began to work again.

After many days spent cleaning the slope, when they gathered everything they could, Jensen suddenly saw something high in a tree up the slope - a large piece of human tissue caught on a branch. Getting there was incredibly risky, even with cables, but Jensen couldn't leave the find. He climbed up, collected what he found and put it in a plastic bag. His work was done.

Jensen does not have heart-rending stories of salvation. The fact that he is looking for a more abstract value is a part of a person, in the direct or figurative sense, which he can return to the family of the deceased with the words: "We tried." He knows from experience that when someone's life is destroyed, even the smallest fragments can bring peace.

Many of the things found by Jensen and his team went to the office. Kenyon in Bracknell, a town about an hour from London.

In perfect order, the metal shelves located throughout the warehouse contain the tools needed for a million tasks that Kenyon performs on duty. It has everything you need for first aid of any type at the scene of the incident, and body armor for cases where Kenyon cause hot spots. There is a basket with prayer rugs for Muslim families and a box with teddy bears wearing T-shirts with the logo. Kenyon for children in Family Assistance Centers.

The company has a rich history. In 1906, Harold and Herbert Kenyonov, the sons of the director of the English funeral home, were asked to help with the identification and delivery home of 28 to the bodies of those killed in a train crash. Kenyons, as the company’s employees still call themselves, got down to business as soon as they heard the terrible news of a major disaster. Then they still could not identify people by DNA. The victims were identified by fingerprints and dental records, if they had them, or by personal belongings, if not. While technologies became more complicated, disasters with mass death of people became more and more widespread.

Today, most people believe that these governments are working with the consequences of large-scale misfortunes. Often it is: a great experience that Jensen had before he began working in Kenyon in the 1998 year, he received in the American Army for funeral matters (Army handling mortuary affairs). But it is not only the military that do this, there is plenty of business for private companies.

Along with terrorism, Jensen’s work is often associated with plane crashes. Many passengers believe that in the event of a plane crash, the airline assumes many related duties. More often than not, they do not. Airlines and governments keep companies like Kenyon at hand, because they cannot afford to make a mistake with such responsibility. In addition to ethical motives, the right thing to do in relation to the families of the victims is beneficial for the business; huge financial losses in case of poor-quality work are at stake. Years of litigation and a wave of oppressive negatives and complaints from disgruntled families can become critical. Airlines may hand over Kenyon everything; Their services include the organization of call centers, the identification and delivery of bodies home, mass graves and the restoration of personal belongings of the victims.

When a commercial flight crashes, the client immediately notifies Jensen. Typically, the client is the airline, although in some cases it may be a travel company or even the country where the plane fell. He collects all the information that is possible. At first he tries to find out who is responsible for what. Kenyon Is a private company, so if the government decides to administer mitigation activities, Jensen gives way to them, while remaining on hand for consultation. In a few minutes of a telephone conversation, Jensen finds out enough information about the incident to understand what the most urgent needs of the airline are. In a few hours the staff Kenyon may swell with 27 full-time employees to 900 independent contractors contracted, depending on the severity of the disaster. Team members Kenyon They do not work within the same industry, although many of them have experience in law enforcement. Everyone has one thing in common: they are very empathetic, although they have retained the ability to emotionally distance themselves from the victims of the catastrophe.
Around the world, crisis communication team members keep their phones nearby, ready to answer media questions. At this time, the group of interaction of interaction of hotels goes to the hotel, located near the crash site. Families of victims from all over the world fly to the disaster area, so the hotel must be large enough to accommodate them all. As soon as families and employees Kenyon got to the place, the hotel selected by mail or fax receives a manual on how to select rooms and prepare them for the bereaved. For the next few days, the hotel will turn into a Family Assistance Center, where family members of the victims will wait, grieve together and spend time between briefings as well as possible.

While his plan for organizing the Family Aid Center is being carried out, Jensen is already on his way to the scene. As soon as Jensen gets an idea of ​​the state of the bodies, he will give instructions about the morgue. For this, it is important not so much the number of victims as the state of the bodies. The crash of a small plane that crashed in Mozambique in 2013, for example, required more efforts to organize the collection and storage of bodies than unhappiness with large commercial flights. Although the entire 33 passenger died, 900 body fragments were found.

Often, Jensen has to act as a link between the families left in the hotel and the specialists at the crash site. All the misfortunes with a large number of dead are different, but the staff Kenyon rarely work at the crash site alone. Kenyon work together with local law enforcement agencies, forensic scientists, firefighters and the military.
As soon as Jensen learns more details about the disaster, he arranges a meeting for the families of the victims. Such briefings are very difficult.

“You cannot undo what happened, so all you can do is not make the situation worse. You have a very difficult task, ”he explained.

Jensen desperately wants to give his families a little glimmer of hope, but instead he should tell ruthless facts. First, he warns families that they will have to hear very specific information. Parents remove children from the room.

“You have to realize that there was a shock at high speed, which means that your loved ones now do not look like us,” he says something like that. “This means that we are likely to find several thousand fragments of human remains.”
Often families do not receive a body or even remains for many weeks. Some never get anything. Lack of body means the absence of certain information that can be shared with interested relatives and friends, the ability to demand insurance and plan a funeral. Responsibilities that are associated with the loss of a loved one, seem to be a heavy burden, while there is no possibility to fulfill them. All that the relatives of the deceased can do is wait for clarification of the details.

When the remains and personal belongings are collected from the crash site, the Kenyons collect dental and other medical records and have long conversations with families, trying to find out any details that could help identify the victims. Each family must choose one person who will receive the remains and personal items found. Some disputes end in court. Employees Kenyon explain what procedures are carried out with personal belongings and ask the families the necessary questions: do they want the items found to be cleaned? Do they want to get it from hand to hand or by mail? Jensen leaves every detail at the discretion of the families of the victims. They almost can not affect the circumstances in which they fell, and decisions in connection with personal things returns to them the feeling of some kind of control.

At the crash site, Jensen and his team remove any hazardous substances that may cause further damage to things, but the items fall into Bracknell in a different state. They are wet because of the weather and because of the water that extinguished the fire, they smell like aviation fuel and decomposition. When the container is delivered, team members carefully unpack each box and lay out the items on the long tables in the middle of the room. Objects are studied and divided into two groups: “related” - things with the names of passengers on them or things found next to the body or on it, and “unrelated” - which include everything from watches found in a pile of debris to a suitcase, marked with a name that is not in the list of passengers. The related items are returned first, and the unrelated ones are photographed and placed in an online catalog that the families of the deceased can explore in the hope of finding out some of the things.

Before the catalogs of photos it became possible to lay out on the Internet, they were made on paper, with six or more items on each page.
When the families of the victims of the disaster identify everything they can from the catalog, Jensen continues to work on relating the remaining things to the dead. He works tirelessly. He and his team use every possible piece of evidence, including camera photos and recovered cell phone numbers. Jensen even brings car keys to dealers to try to get a vehicle identification number. Typically, dealers can only report the country in which the car was sold, but even this can be an important piece of evidence.

Many of the things Jensen found will never be returned. After two years or no matter how long the search process is completed, lost items collected by Jensen will be destroyed.

Most families prefer to receive personal items in the mail, then they are wrapped in white wrapping paper, if they are large, or laid out in small boxes. Some families want things to be delivered to them in person. And then it can be very difficult, because relatives often do not want to believe that their loved ones are no longer alive, and then Jensen becomes, in fact, a herald of death.

Text translation prepared edition Inosmi.

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