Avon USARThe Avon Fire & Rescue Service Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team has seen its procedures and skills tested at a recent building collapse exercise in Nailsea.
A structure designed and constructed using timber and concrete slabs was created inside the appliance bay at Nailsea Fire Station to simulate a partial collapse.
Working alongside the South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) the scenario involved an explosion following unmonitored hot works and resulted in a number of casualties. 
The aim of the exercise was to test the crews in logistics, confined space management, technical search techniques, breaking and breaching, trauma care and disaster victim identification.
Crew Manager Darren French said: “After an entry control point was established and a logistics area identified we faced the first obstacle, a six inch thick re-enforced concrete slab in a 4ft x 4ft tunnel.
“Once this had been dealt with the crews were given the option of a left or right hand turn, each one with its challenges. Crews taking the left hand turn faced a tunnel that narrowed to two feet square making access very difficult. Once through this a collapse was simulated and emergency procedures initiated.
“Crews on the opposite leg had the challenge of a vertical shaft with a narrow exit and a further concrete breach. A number of casualties were encountered along the way and dealt with accordingly.
“All those involved worked in difficult and cramped conditions overcoming some challenging obstacles to achieve a successful outcome.”