“Deep Cleaning Heroes”: How Illinois ServPro Team Battles Invisible Enemy In COVID-19 Pandemic

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The word “hero” has been used quite a lot throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Occupations such as paramedic, grocery store employee, and nurse have been recognized as those we deem worthy of receiving such a label.

There are also those whose occupations defy categorization and labeling. Whether or not society wants to award them a heroic label, the efforts by performed disaster mitigation teams, such as Bobby Nichols’ ServPro disaster recovery team, can not be overlooked for how vital their service is to catastrophe mitigation.

At first, the day-to-day operations of a cleaning and restoration service business may not sound like one that comes to the forefront of necessity, when responding to a coronavirus-based incident, Nichols’ experiences, as well as his staff’s, have qualified them to provide an unparalleled response to returning a virus-ridden scene back to its normal state.

Nichols, along with his wife and business partner, Kata, have owned multiple ServPro franchises for over 15 years, and have been providing cleaning and restoration services following nearly any disaster that mother nature, and human nature, have thrown at them. Many of these calamities occur in and around larger buildings, which can be overwhelming to many businesses.

“Team Nichols is a Disaster Recovery Team that specializes in commercial and industrial structures, so the larger buildings are something we are quite familiar with”, said Nichols. “Our team members have an extensive amount of training in just (about) every type of emergency cleaning situation you can think of. In this case, we utilize our OSHA Bloodborne pathogen training to handle projects resulting from positive and confirmed cases of COVID-19, and lean on CDC recommendations to make sure businesses can remain open or get back in business ASAP with a bit more confidence”.

Nichols believes that he, Kata, and his staff are uniquely qualified to handle whatever predicament the virus throws at them, and he and his staff had already been prepared for some aspects of this pandemic. However, even he admits that the situations encountered have at times, been beyond his and his team’s imagination.

“This is an environment and situation our teams train for during the year”, said Nichols. “The scope of this situation is beyond what even we could have imagined. However, we have the proper PPE, equipment, and disinfectants to handle any sized building in the central United States”, he added.

Like any business, residence, or group, the idea of battling an “invisible enemy”, was not something in Nichols’ plans. However, that hasn’t dissuaded he and his staff from tackling the challenges head on.

“The science and training cannot be denied”, he said. “We are fortunate to have the proper tools and products needed to attack this virus head on. With hospital grade disinfectants we have a much better chance of stopping the spread”, Nichols mentioned. “Even in facilities with major outbreaks, if my team does their part and the general public is doing their part…..we will all get through this together”

However, while taking care of others, Nichols and his staff recognize that they must take care of themselves, so they can continue to service others.

“Our facility has extremely strict safety precautions (that) our staff adheres to,” he says. “Each morning the entire facility gets a thorough disinfecting of all high touch surfaces, and all staff are required to be wearing masks”, he said. Nichols and his staff discuss social distancing protocols as a daily topic at staff meetings as well.

Moving forward, Nichols, Kata, and his staff recognize that making the public, and his customers cognisant of their abilities, determination, and accomplishments, regardless of the scenario, helps the general public understand the day-to-day operating procedures that they are going through, both as a business, and as human beings during this period.

“For the past month, our local team of nearly 50 people have been working countless hours, attacking this virus wherever it may be”, said Nichols. “Their sacrifices are immeasurable at this point”, he added. “Many of them have traveled to disaster zones following hurricanes and massive flooding events, (but) never have we had to call upon them to sacrifice so much here in Chicagoland”.

Nichols’ ServPro location in Kankakee County is based in Manteno. He and his wife also maintain two other locations in the South Suburbs.

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