Metro search and rescue crews train constantly in case of a building collapse

ATLANTA — Whether you live in a high rise or work in one, the condo collapse that happened in southern Florida early Thursday morning has many wondering what would our local search and rescue teams do if something similar happened in metro Atlanta.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes went Atlanta Fire Station No. 4, where firefighters were conducting training drills and walked her through what they would do in a situation like the one in Florida.

Sgt. George Daykin has been with Atlanta Fire & Rescue for 10 years. He and his crew are constantly doing drills and training for search and rescue scenarios when it comes to building collapses.

Daykin told Fernandes that as he watched coverage of the condo collapse Thursday, he immediately thought about what he and his crew would do if something like that happened in metro Atlanta.


“So our initial focus when we arrive on scene is probably going to be to clear out the remaining structure, make sure there’s no one trapped inside of there, or maybe there are some elderly people who just need assistance getting out and there’s nothing wrong with them. And then after that, we’re going to focus on any surface victims that might be buried on top of this rubble, you know maybe their legs are trapped or maybe they’re on a balcony,” Daykin said.

Last summer, a parking deck collapsed at Emory Hospital Midtown in a similar situation to what happened in Florida.

“That was pretty scary. A construction worker actually rode that collapse from the eighth floor all the way down and he was ... a surface victim, so when we got there he was buried up to his knees in the rubble pile and we were able to run in there and get him out pretty quickly,” Daykin said.

That collapse didn’t impact as many people compared to the collapse in Florida, but Daykin said you can feel confident about the department’s ability to handle a tragedy on that scale.

“We have tools and equipment for that. We have search cameras, we have acoustic seismic devices that can pick up sounds. So if there is someone trapped deep, we know where to start looking,” Daykin said.

Georgia also has its own network of search and rescue teams if one municipality can’t handle a certain situation.