MOBILE, Ala (WALA) – We are talking to a local urban search and rescue expert about what first responders are up against in Florida because of the condo collapse.
Hours after the collapse, urban search and rescue teams are on scene combing through the crumbled concrete.
“It’s a race against time,” said Douglas Cooper, who helped create Mobile’s Urban Search and Rescue Team. “The longer it is the chance of survivability goes down exponentially as time goes by.”
Cooper is not helping out in Florida, but he knows what those crews are up against. 20 years ago, he helped create the urban search and rescue team in Mobile called Alabama Task Force One.
“For the first 24 hours they do what they call a blitz attack so those guys aren’t taking breaks and going and sleeping or anything like that,” he said. “The ones that got there they have been working nonstop.”
Cooper says the rescue teams in Surfside have a lot of resources at their disposal, like K-9s, acoustic devices and other tech to help guide crews to victims.
Officials in Florida say it could take a week to finish the search.
“They’re tunneling right now if a dog hit on a certain area or one of the technical search guys say I can hear sounds like someone’s breathing or I hear a tapping noise or something like that then they’ll start moving debris,” he said.
To be able to find the missing Cooper says rescuers are having to go down into the pancaked concrete. He says it can be hard and dangerous work.
“Their primary focus is to do as many rescues as possible, but they will stay on site and help with the recovery efforts after that’s passed,” he said.
Cooper says one of things that should help out in Surfside is the fact that there are two federal urban search and rescue teams in the area.