CHESTER, Va. -- Virginia Regional Technical Rescue Teams responded on Sept. 10, when one person was killed and one injured in what could have been a catastrophic event in Chesterfield County when an entire building collapsed.
It was mid-day on the Chester Village Green complex. A condominium was under construction with a business on the ground floor and a residence on the second floor. Workers were busy when as some witnesses reported, a terrible noise began to come from the building and it began to fall. Workers scrambled to escape.
In mere minutes, an entire two-story structure fell. The wooden beams resembled scattered toothpicks, a crack lined the shingled roof and the windows from the second story were now level with the ground. Water shot into the air like a geyser from broken water pipes.
The A and D sides had workers and residents of adjacent condominiums along with vehicles on the outside of the structure, some inside. B and C sides had a public library and residential condominiums. Both buildings were in close proximity to the dangerous collapse zone area. Both were filled with people.
The call was dispatched initially at 12:14 p.m., as a building collapse. Responding was Company 1, Truck 12, Rescue 14, TSO and Battalion 2. First on scene crews confirmed a building had collapsed and the call was upgraded. In the midst of chaos, Command was established, size-up was ongoing and constantly being evaluated. Additional resources were immediately requested.
Info reported to rescuers was not definite only guesses and noone knew initially how many people were in the building. Estimates came in at 10 to 105. However, later the possible number of trapped victims was believed to be 12 as more and more people became accounted for.
Chesterfield Fire and EMS initiated a massive response, including its Technical Rescue Team. Then, a request went out for the Central Virginia Regional Rescue Team which consists of Henrico, Hanover, Richmond and Chesterfield. Also requested was Crater Technical Rescue Team which consists of Petersburg, Hopewell, Prince George, Fort Lee (Federal base) and Colonial Heights.
Multiple engines, medic units, battalion chiefs, training officers and safety officers were on scene. Chesterfield County Police and Virginia State Police were a major part in the operation. The Mobile Command Center was a base for the operation.
At 2:09 p.m., a Signal 15 Bravo was implemented.
One worker who was killed, Scott Giordano, 38, of Disputanta, Va. was removed from the rubble. The injured person whose identity has not been released was transported to a local hospital.
Search and Rescue dogs were brought in, microphone equipment was used to aid in the search.
It was a grueling, time consuming operation that required constant size-up and scene monitoring.
Crews continued search efforts until late Wednesday night when heavy rain began to cover the area. Rescuers were pulled out and off the structure due to the fact that the rain was weighing down the structure. Officials said the search would resume when the rain stopped.
Thursday morning, the search resumed with only about 20 percent of the building remaining to be checked. Officials said they were checking every possible area in case someone else was in the building even though by this time it was believed all had been accounted for.
Phillips Volunteer Fire Department assisted with meals and drinks with their Rehab 13 unit.
The incident is under investigation. Authorities have already begun reviewing all inspection reports of the structure.