CTV collapse scene 'chaotic'
Fri, 02 Nov 2012 6:14p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
The first Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) officer on the scene at the CTV building collapse has been criticised for failing to take control of the chaotic rescue effort.
Dave Berry, who also happened to be the highest-ranking fire officer on site, told the coroner it was the responsibility of the fire service to lead the operation, but because he was in an USAR uniform, it wasn't up to him.
Mr Berry arrived at the CTV building by helicopter about two hours after the quake.
“It didn't look as though anyone was in charge and things were rather chaotic.”
He told the coroner the highest-ranking officer from the fire service should have taken control of the site. But he was in fact the most senior there, and under cross-examination was pressed why he didn't take control.
Mr Berry is a senior station officer in the Sockburn fire station. He was dressed in black USAR overalls, not in his fire fighter uniform. Emergency workers at the site were confused about his role.
Mr Berry did take charge of a tunnel, dragging 14 people out of the rubble - eight of them survived.
“Fire fighters were cutting their heads on the narrow tunnel as they went in, and the conditions were difficult to work in,” he says.
He didn't think the rescue effort was working effectively, so stepped into a leadership role by default.
“The only reason I took control of the situation was because it appeared to be not functioning correctly and there were lives that needed to be rescued."
Since February 22, command levels between USAR and the fire service have been aligned, so there's better understanding between the two agencies.
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3/11/2012 5:22:56 p.m.
Fair Nzer wrote:
Since February 22, 2011 and after the cause of 185 lives did command levels between USAR and the fire service aligned. Wonder why no such action was prioritised after the 1st Earthquake on September 4, 2010?
3/11/2012 3:53:14 p.m.
CTV BUILDING is the answere to all cripples that are cribbled to this date.
Ghost are of famous let alone a human being left to tell the story.
2/11/2012 8:12:52 p.m.
Ex Fire Service Officer wrote:
What a stitch up and how dangerously misleading this Inquest is becoming! This Inquest is rapidly losing credibility as a robust process to forward credible recommendations to prevent a recurrence of this situation which caused multiple deathsat the CTV building site! According to reports Berry was only a Senior Station Officer which is not that high in the pecking order in the NZ Fire Service executive/operational hierarchy and besides as he stated he attended the incident on that day in a specialist USAR leadership role! It wasn't up to Berry to take command of and manage the whole CTV site in an ongoing manner- he had a specialist rescue role on the day and should have been supported by more senior officers from the NZ Fire Service and, in addition, the whole site should have been identified as a high priority site and appropriately supported and resourced through the Civil Defence and Emergency Management organisation which had overall strategic command of the incident.
While the Manager of USAR has appeared to have smoothed over this situation by claiming the NZ Fire Service and USAR (the same organisation!) have since clarified their operational roles the situation at the CTV site remains symptomatic of major failings in Fire Service management at executive/operational levels and major failings in the whole Civil Defence and Emergency Management organisational and operational system.
There's an old saying in the Fire Service - "BS baffles brains" The Coroner and their legal Counsel are being misled!
This situation requires a Royal Commission of Inquiry not a cursory "quick and dirty" political cover up!
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