First responders recount scene inside collapsed London, Ont. building
LONDON, ONT. -- Members of the London Fire Department who responded to the partial collapse of a building on Teeple Terrace this past Friday share the techniques used to make the scene safe and free those trapped inside.
Jason Lundy, the Technical Rescue Team leader with the London Fire Department, says, “I was actually in the office with one of the other members when we heard the call come in.”
That call included word that up to 10 people might be trapped in the rubble.
Lundy, along with his crew, played an important role on scene of the partial building collapse.
“When we arrived, myself and another member went upstairs, we noticed that that floor had collapsed on top of the fourth- we utilized our aerial trucks as anchors," Lundy explains.
He says a key component to this call was to stabilize the structure that had been compromised so that the other firefighters could perform the rescue operation safely.
“We had members working in dangerous positions, where there was a lot of poured concrete - and concrete that is our floor - hanging above them."
That's when the quick thinking of the technical team came into play.
Lundy says they used construction posts to stabilize floors, they shored up load-bearing walls and also utilized low-pressure airbags supplied by Ross’ Towing to make lifts inside.
It was the first rescue of this magnitude for Lundy and for many of the firefighters who responded.
Kevin Culbertson, district chief for the London Fire Department, was the incident commander on scene - in charge helping coordinate all emergency crew including paramedics and police.
"The thing about an incident like this, where it’s sort of organized chaos, there is high emotions,” Culbertson says. “Everybody is feeling what's going on. The biggest thing for me is to keep my crew and everybody else on scene calm."
Often the first on scene and running toward a disaster when most people are fleeing in the opposite direction, events like the collapse can take both a physical and an emotional toll.
Culbertson says before the scene was cleared the Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISMT) was activated, an important step to making sure the firefighters are able process what they have been through.
"Talk to them about their feelings, talk to them about how normal this is, give them tools to work with, and I've seen it - I've seen it improve things. No longer do firefighters leave, get off shift and go sit in the dark and drink - they deal with it so it doesn’t come back and it doesn’t affect their families.”
The funerals for two workers who were killed in the collapse were both held this week. At least four others were also injured.
An investigation into the cause is ongoing.