Florida collapse: Bay Area search and rescue expert describes challenging job for crews

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Search and rescue expert describes challenges for Florida crews
Bay Area search and rescue expert, Chief Harold Schapelhouman decribes challenging job for crews in Florida.

SURFSIDE, Fla (KGO) -- Search and rescue crews in Surfside, Florida are using not only their eyes and ears, but also sonar, cameras and heavy equipment to try to find people in the rubble.

Chief Harold Schapelhouman with Menlo Park Fire Protection District is an expert in the field. He's led search and rescue teams around the world.

"We've been following this incident and there are similarities to what we encountered at the Murrah (Federal) Building in Oklahoma City in 1995," said Schapelhouman.

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He said like in Oklahoma, having part of the building still intact makes the rescue in Florida more difficult. Schapelhouman added, "Time is your biggest enemy and you're equally trying to work against a building that is partially collapsed and you don't want to be the ones that end up collapsing the rest of it."

The crews are also using trained search and rescue dogs.

"Search dogs, they're able to find people in situations in where most cases you wouldn't even be able to understand that there is somebody there," said Schapelhouman.

Schapelhouman said Miami-Dade's search crews are some of the best in the world, "They'll do everything they can humanly possible to save as many people as possible. And, if they can't do it than it wouldn't have been able to be done."

Schapelhouman added that these first few hours are the most critical in the search for survivors.

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