Rescuers use dogs, listening devices and cameras to search the rubble for survivors
Miami-Dade Fire District Chief Jason Richard told CNN that as rescuers move toward the pile of debris, structural engineers are working to determine which spaces are safe to enter and where additional shoring and other materials are needed. to ensure the building does not roll over or fall on rescuers.
“So as we move through the building we constantly monitor, making sure there is no movement; (With) every piece of debris we move we have to make efforts to stabilize the building, centimeter by centimeter, ”said Richard, who is helping oversee rescue operations at the partially collapsed apartment building in Surfside.
Richard said the search began on top of the rubble, rescuing people who were lightly trapped. Then the search moved to areas where noises could be heard: firefighters followed the sounds and rescued people calling for help. Then the search went to the garage.
Richard said rescuers are using dogs from the Miami-Dade Fire Department and Florida Task Force One, as well as listening devices to search for survivors. Teams also stop and yell at the pile of rubble, listening for any sounds, bangs, or voices.
At the moment “we stop all our operations and we make everyone be quiet and listen,” Richard told CNN. “That, along with the dogs constantly moving through the pile of rubble, as well as the listening devices. We have cameras that we can put in holes in the concrete slabs and place in other small voids so that we can see around corners and in small areas as well.
According to Richard, although it is a “pancake” collapse (from top to bottom), as the concrete slabs slide and move towards the ground they create voids.
“So we are hopeful of finding patients in those spaces and we have identified gaps and those are the areas that we are focusing our efforts on,” he said.
Depending on where they are looking and the intensity of the work, firefighters may be on duty for 15 minutes or less, Richard said. In the garage, for example, shifts are less than 15 minutes due to water, fumes and other elements.
There are currently about 30 firefighters in rotation conducting search and rescue.