City of Ekurhuleni`s urban search and rescue (USAR) technicians graduate
In the aftermaths of natural and manmade disasters such as earthquakes, floods, explosions, construction mishaps, massive structures reduced to rubble piles either in smaller and large scales. Victims predominately trapped deep under the rubble for a long time due to heavy tonnage of concrete, metal and other debris rubble. The survival of those still alive depends deeply on the knowledge, technicians` quick response and equipment application strategies. Upon the available men and women trained in this specialised courses, the City of Ekurhuleni continue to empower its fire fighters with more skills in all technical rescue models as per International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) standards. Seven more technicians were assessed through structural and confine space rescue exercise on 5 May 2022 from 09h50 until 6 May 2022 at 06h12 when the last patient was recovered.
“Case study given to seven students was that of an Earthquake registered 9,4 on a Richter scale with depth of 25 kilometres. Multiple floor structures collapsed, patients trapped in voids of buildings and vehicles, some crushed by heavy concrete slabs and all needs intervention of technical rescuers. The call came in at 09h50”. Deployment took place immediately and team arrival registered 10h50 the same morning with all necessary specialised rescue equipment.
Rescuers under the guidance of course coordinator and district manager Gerald Moswathupa, leading instructor station manager, Jonas Finger and volunteer USAR-SA instructor and ex- CoE Fire fighter/rescue technician Toney Stacey, went through a gruesome testing assessment from the time call was received until the morning 06h12 on Friday, 6 May 2022, when last patient was recovered.
Expectation from the team was to demonstrate their skills on structural collapsed, confine space and vehicle rescue, all combined. Prioritisation of patients in accordance to medical practise using triage system.
First life patient rescued with minor injuries was at 15h48 the same day and handed over to receiving medical facility.
Discipline and expectations as USAR technician is safe demonstration of procedures to both team members and public members “the injured and uninjured”. Technicians should prioritise saving lives and no short cuts and tunnel vision as those can lead to detrimental effects to entire operation. Teamwork is an absolute necessity.
All seven technicians applied themselves through the entire operation even though the evaluators threw curve balls to them. After shocks and adverse weather conditions are some of the challenges, they faced. All three-life patients rescued at 15h48, 19h08 and 21h39 respectively. The deceased recovered at 22h10, 22h32, 06h00 and 06h12 the Friday morning.
The entire exercise was call off at 10h00 immediately after all equipment were cleaned, packed and ready to be used for the next operation.
Caption: course coordinator DM Gerald Moswathupa, volunteer instructor Toney Stacey and leading instructor Jonas Finger
Source: William Ntladi, district manager media liaison: Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS)