London Fire Brigade

London Fire Brigade comment about Oklahoma tornado

21 May 2013

Station Manager David O’Neill is part of London Fire Brigade’s technical rescue team, as well as being an International Search and Rescue (ISAR) team leader, he said:

“Our thoughts are with the people of Oklahoma, the families and friends of those who’ve lost loved ones, and the firefighters and rescue teams involved.

“London Fire Brigade has 200 dedicated staff trained in urban search and rescue (USAR) and a large fleet of specialist vehicles that carry the tools and equipment needed for this type of incident. We use a variety of tools, including acoustic and seismic listening devices and remote cameras, that can detect movement or noise inside a collapsed building. Search and rescue teams also use specially trained search dogs to detect the scent of survivors, as people can become trapped in voids within rubble.

“London’s USAR teams are highly skilled, and have trained with Texas Task Force One, which is one of the teams that’s been sent to Oklahoma. We’ve also recently worked with search and rescue teams in Pakistan, helping assess their current capabilities and providing a training plan to bring them up to the level of professionalism we have in London. London Fire Brigade has also recently joined the International Search and Rescue team, which can be ready to deploy within six hours to disasters across the world.

“At large-scale rescue operations, like we’re seeing in Oklahoma, there’s usually a six stage process, starting with initial reconnaissance. After ensuring gas, electricity and water supplies have been isolated, teams will use search dogs and technical equipment to explore any voids. This is followed by the stabilisation and removal of rubble and debris. Given the time of day and that most people would have been awake, together with the fact that most of the buildings are low rise, I would hope that more survivors will be rescued from the wreckage.”