KENNEDALE, Texas — Hazardous cleanup companies get a lot of odd requests, but nothing prepared the crew at CG Environmental for the past week.
"We were the first in, and we really had no clue what we were getting into," Dan Lee told News 8 on Wednesday.
Lee was part of the 15-person team that spent the weekend decontaminating the North Dallas apartment where Thomas Duncan had stayed after initially getting sick from the Ebola virus nearly two weeks ago.
The team went through two phases of decontamination, eventually removing enough material to fill 140 drums of what is now considered "hazardous" material.
"We removed those [the mattresses] and started cutting those up. Then moved to the bathroom and the closet. and got everything touched by him," Lee said. "The lighting was poor in that house, to say the least, and it was definitely eerie."
The waste drums are expected to be incinerated this week.
Some of the crew who agreed to the job are family men. The potential "what-ifs" of treating such a sensitive space weren't lost on them.
"I've got a wife, two kids," said Garrett Eison. "You hear 'Ebola,' you think Africa and deaths. It's like the plague, you try to stay away from it."
But Eison said most of the workers felt compelled to step in and help, because so few companies are equipped to handle such high-profile jobs.
"Now, that we've done one, it should get easier, but we need to be cautious," Eison said.
The company was busy Wednesday night cleaning an isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Duncan was treated before his death, according to vice president Brand Smith.
CG Environmental owner Erick McCallum said it was too early to know if their services would be required at the CareNow clinic in Frisco where a Dallas County deputy who had entered Duncan's apartment without protective gear told personnel he was feeling ill.
"We're contracted with Frisco; we've been contacted by the hospital, and we've been contacted by several entities throughout the U.S. just for protocols, what do we do, how do we handle this?" McCallum said.
These high-profile jobs are also bringing in big money for the company. The apartment cleanup alone was expected to fetch well over $100,000, although negotiations on a final figure were incomplete.
The State of Texas has said it will pick up most, if not all, of the expenses at the Dallas apartment cleanup.