Technical Rescue

“Engineering” the Collapse: Making the Structure Safe

Issue 11 and Volume 148.

“Engineering” the Collapse: Making the Structure Safe BY DAVID J. HAMMOND Each FEMA USAR task force has six specially trained civil/structural engineers, two of whom deploy with the team in any six-hour period. These volunteer engineers, called “structural specialists (S. Spec.)” are required to attend a one-week special course developed by the Army Corps of Engineers in addition to normal USAR training. The objective of the Corps course is to familiarize the S. Spec. with the disaster environment. Among the information presented in the course is that USAR most often occurs in multistoried, fully or partially collapsed, very dangerous structures that contain heavy debris and have a high potential for additional collapse. USAR teams with specialists trained in search, rescue, and medical care must work in this dangerous environment when the recovery of live victims is probable. Engineers trained and experienced in evaluating damaged buildings can help reduce (or at…

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