Expert frustrated by CTV rescue
Thu, 01 Nov 2012 6:10p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
A demolition expert at the CTV building collapse has criticised the use of a human chain to remove rubble as a waste of time.
He told the coroner's inquest into the deaths of eight people who survived the initial collapse that machinery would have been a far more effective way of getting to survivors.
Southern Demolition owner Alan Edge arrived at the CTV building site two hours after it collapsed with three diggers and five staff. He says rescue workers who formed a human chain to remove debris by hand were wasting crucial time.
“Having 20 people removing rubble might feel good but it was achieving nothing,” he says.
Mr Edge was frustrated that he was unable to use his heavy machinery.
“We could remove the debris [in] a much faster amount of time.”
Jason Campbell used his crane to lift some of the first fire fighters on the scene to the top of the building's burning lift shaft to check for survivors. As time went on, he says Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) took over and demolition workers given a back seat.
"We got told USAR think like rescuing people, think like recovering people, contractors are all rip, sh** and bust,” Mr Edge says.
Douglas Watt who joined the rescue soon after the quake struck pulled a woman from the rubble.
“The first thing she said when she got out was in an Asian accent, ‘50 people, 50 more people,' that's when we realised there were more people in there.”
But a rescuer with vital listening equipment spent two hours filling out forms delaying their arrival at the building collapse.
Jane Parfitt from Civil Defence admitted two hours was too long. Mr Edge says there was no one in charge, and people seemed to obey the person who had the loudest voice.
“Too many people involved [in] trying to do things right, and it turned out not right.”
Mr Edge was thanked by the council assisting the coroner, and the man whose wife died before rescue teams could get to her.
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11/11/2012 9:38:04 a.m.
US USAR Operator wrote:
Worlds best practise for USAR and building collapse rescue is to not use mechanical machinery but to use workers. The is a huge difference between building demolition and rescue. Hopefully someone takes the time to explain this to Mr Edge. The right decision was made by the USAR teams.
2/11/2012 9:54:15 a.m.
Concerned Citizen wrote:
In Los Angeles where the earthquake risk is similar to that in NZ, government and emergency service authorities, particularly the LA Fire Department, realised some time ago that they could not deal with these large scale and complex disasters successfully alone - they needed to engage with citizens and the private sector in a formal, proactive and structured way. A system known as the Community Emergency Response Team or "CERT" programme was developed and with the support of the government is now well established throughout the US and has been proven to be successful during many emergency situations.
Citizens of NZ and the NZ emergency authorities should seriously consider a CERT type programme for NZ in light of the ChCh earthquake response and tragedies like the CTV building situation. The lessons arising from this inquest into the CTV building emergency are not unique to that event and neither are the solutions.
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