We recently had the opportunity to work with the Urban Search And Rescue team (USAR). If a disaster or accident occurs in which people are trapped or buried, this specialist assistance team can be deployed. Just think of collapses following, for instance, gas explosions or earthquakes.
The clients of a demolition project in Rotterdam we were working on were approached by USAR who asked whether a building could be made available for carrying out a rescue exercise. Ultimately, an outbuilding for this exercise was made available. We allowed it to collapse in a controlled manner so that USAR could carry out their rescue exercise.
The intention was to create a simulation that was as realistic as possible, in which the rescue workers had to pull ‘people’ out from under the rubble. Of course, no real people were used for this, but dummy mannequins.
First, we extensively inspected the area around the outbuilding. Then we wrote detailed plans to control the collapse of the outbuilding.
The outbuilding stood on tall stilts, and was built mainly of timber and steel. We put the dummy mannequins in old cars, which we parked under the outbuilding. In order not to make it too easy for the rescuers, we laid large concrete slabs on the cars. Then we set in motion a controlled collapse of the outbuilding on top of the cars.
Next, it was up to the USAR rescue workers to free the dummy mannequins from their plight. Using all kinds of small cranes, drills and sawing machines, the rescuers set to work. After freeing the dummies, we made sure to remove the debris.
It was a successful rescue exercise, and the USAR rescue workers are now better prepared for future disasters. For us as a multidisciplinary demolition company, this was of course a unique project of which we are quite proud.
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