USAR blamed for CTV delays
Tue, 30 Oct 2012 6:20p.m.
By Jeff Hampton
A senior police officer has taken a shot at Urban Search and Rescue's approach at the devastated CTV building in Christchurch.
He told a coroner's inquest into the deaths of eight foreigners who survived the collapse but died before being rescued, that one of USAR's chiefs hindered efforts because of over-concern about health and safety.
Detective sergeant Rex Barnett's been in the force almost 40 years, but he's never dealt with anything on the scale of the February quake.
“There were destroyed buildings everywhere, utter chaos,” he said.
But he became frustrated while helping later with the rescue effort at the CTV building. He felt USAR hindered work police and civilian contractors wanted to do with heavy machinery.
“Any attempts to remove the fallen concrete beams etc were vetoed by [a member of] USAR who appeared to be overwhelmed by occupational health and safety concerns and preoccupied with their role.”
Police have asked the fire service to identify the person.
The inquest is investigating the deaths of eight foreign language students, who're known to have survived the quake but died in the rubble.
Earlier, fellow officer Sgt Mike Brooklands, who'd taken charge of police there, said he was anxious for the fire service to get there.
“To be sitting there watching a fire build and not being able to do anything about it, of course I was frustrated,” Mr Brooklands said.
The next month he wrote a report called 'Things to be Learnt', and today lawyer Richard Raymond read an excerpt to the court.
“If I could have fire service at the CTV site early with more tankers, deceased persons who were removed in the first hours who were severely burnt could have possibly had their lives saved.”
These issues are sensitive for the fire service whose legal team at one stage indicated to the court it would seek to suppress the names of most fire service personnel. They later abandoned the idea.
The first fire service witness is due to give evidence tomorrow. There'll be a lot of interest in how long they took to get there, and who was in charge at the site.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
31/10/2012 5:26:41 a.m.
The grossly mismanaged emergency situation at the CTV building didn't need to happen and was symptomatic of the dysfunctional NZ Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) system which was exposed in another "independent" government initiated report recently. Tragically, the NZ CDEM system was at the time of the CTV building collapse fatally flawed and will remain so as long as its head - John Hamilton -doggedly refuses to accept that NZ Councils are not the appropriate organisations to manage large scale emergencies - a fact exposed by the recent report. If anyone is to blame for the massive loss of life due to the mismanaged emergency response at the CTV building it is John Hamilton whose CDEM "Empire" was and still is grossly dysfunctional!
30/10/2012 11:01:57 p.m.
Rubbish. It was obvious someone was dithering around with the CTV building rescue, and such an individual should be removed from command. Some of those people were alive for hours and nothing done!
30/10/2012 10:10:52 p.m.
Fireman Sam wrote:
It is a shame that this police officer has come out and voiced his frustration like this. I think it is fair to say nobody in NZ had the experience to deal with this but in such situations keeping a level head is the safest thing to do. Rescues from such situations should be carried out using a systematic process not like a 'bull in a china shop'. We can all do things differently in hindsight but to say lives would have been saved is pure speculation.
Eventing legend Sir Mark Todd was one of a number of sports ...
Now police in one city have reported dramatic results, slash...
Tourists in Christchurch are being kicked out of the interna...
A man is dead and a woman is critically injured after an inc...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.