When will the rescue recover?
In the coming days, and in some cases hours, authorities may suspend rescue missions and begin recovery at the site of a Miami-area condominium collapse.
Workers are still digging through the rubble, listening and looking for signs of life. The authorities have promised not to leave anyone behind. But no one has been found alive for a few hours after last Thursday’s collapse. And over time, families realize that hope is fading – some have referred to loved ones for days in the past.
Experts say the decision to move on to a recovery mission is complex and involves hundreds of factors. Among them: Weighing the safety of the rescuer against the possibility of finding a survivor.
Thomas Miller, director of the West Virginia National Volunteer Fire Council, called it “the most difficult decision ever made in the world.”
“When the crew arrives, there are already injuries. Our goal is not to injure the rescue team and increase the number of casualties at the scene, ”he said.
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What factors are involved
According to Firehouse, a media outlet for fire and rescue professionals, the solemn transition from rescue to recovery is “one of the most important decisions an incident commander must make.” During rescue missions, weather is important and rescuers are expected to be “exposed to a calculated level of risk”.
“If it is a question of physical recovery, time is no longer the dominant factor and the risk for firefighters is unacceptable”, specifies the publication.
The decision to move on to a recovery mission is often made after consulting with engineers, doctors and trauma specialists, Miller said. The crew can also see an already healed bodily injury to predict the condition of others left in the rubble.
The crew fought fires that could affect survivors, either directly or through smoke inhalation, Miller said.
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According to Miller, the weather is affecting, including the possibility of flooding in the pockets of a rubble pile that could have survivors. Teams on site are closely monitoring Hurricane Elsa to prepare for the risk of heavy rains and strong winds. However, bad weather can hamper rescue operations and reduce the chances of survival.
The nature of the collapse is also important, said Jim Spell, a 33-year-old fire veteran and founder of HAZPRO Consulting LLC, a risk and safety consultancy. Collapsing pancakes, such as buildings by the sea, can reduce the chances of survival compared to if the building simply collapsed.
Buildings are made of different materials of different weights, which can affect their chances of survival. Rescuers should be aware of unstable clumps of debris and the movement of sand below.
“No one else can imagine all the factors they face,” said Miller, saying the surf teams are some of the best teams in the world.
Mexican and Israeli search and rescue teams are internationally renowned and are part of the Miami-Dade Urban Search and Rescue team’s efforts to respond to earthquakes, building explosions and weather disasters around the world. .
“I don’t think anyone else has the knowledge or the right to guess the decisions they make again. They’re the ones with the live data and details, ”Miller added.
How efforts change during recovery
In recovery mode, the team can work at a slower pace, allowing the crew to use heavier equipment. Failure to do so may result in the displacement of debris or injure survivors in the rubble.
Before the heavy equipment arrived, Miller said he expected work to be put on hold as the crew would pay their respects to the victims at the scene and consult with their families. He said the transition from rescue to recovery could cost the rescuer a lot of emotion.
“We are trained to save and help,” he said. “It’s difficult for these crew members to go from rescue to recovery.”
Spell said the decision was disastrous for the family, as it takes into account the fact that relatives of the family are presumed dead.
He said authorities should take the time to answer all family questions and provide counselors, psychologists and religious leaders to help loved ones.
“I am constantly impressed that the surfside team puts their families first and gets the information first,” said Spell.
When incident commanders deploy rescuers in unstable and dangerous locations, they must consider the imminent threat of secondary collapse.
The threat temporarily suspended rescue operations early Thursday, urging search and rescue teams and officials to consider plans for the “likely” demolition of some of the buildings still standing.
“If the worst-case scenario is: I’m afraid if these pillars are really bad, I’ll be back in the parking lot soon,” Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Raid Jadara said on Wednesday.
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How does this compare to other disasters?
Despite the setbacks, authorities still hope to find survivors. Surfside Mayor Charles Barckett cited the case of a woman found alive 17 days after a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013.
According to the US Army website, after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the search and rescue team led by the Washington Engineer Company military district turned into a 48-hour recovery mission. later. Genel Gasman became the fifth and last person to be shot alive 27 hours after the World Trade Center collapsed.
Surfside rescue operations have continued for over a week.
But on the surf side, Miller said there were a few differences from 9/11. The World Trade Center contained more separate structures, more fires, and thicker smoke from the combustion of jet fuel.
The seaside fire was less severe and the search and rescue time may have been extended.
“There is no fixed time frame that can be applied to all situations,” Miller said. “Everyone is different in multiple ways.”
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