Technologies Used by Teams in Rescue from Debris

The tragedy of February 6, which is an undeniable fact that it is a difficult test for us, was met with a great shock not only in Turkey but also abroad. So much so that almost most of the countries that sent humanitarian aid to our country from all over the world did not hesitate to send their rescue teams.

Today’s post-earthquake rescue efforts are now  carried out without resorting to traditional methods  .

Thanks to the new technologies and the new opportunities they provide, disaster victims can now be rescued faster  and with safer methods (although it is still very insufficient).

AFAD’s field scanning satellite technologies is one of them.

By making use of technologies such as the “Post-Disaster Snapshot Transfer Project”, AFAD can analyze the debris fields in detail and plan accordingly.

In these technologies, where “AYDES – UZAL” and “AYDES – Crowdsource” software are used, it is possible to benefit from methods such as  object-based image analysis, texture analysis, creation of new two- and three-dimensional maps  and aerial photography .

A few other technologies known to be integrated with AFAD satellites are electro-optical satellite technologies and “Synthetic Aperture Radar” (SAR).

A device that almost wraps up the earthquake: Earthquake Simulation Device

This technology, which is known to be used especially by Israeli rescue teams in recent days, is almost revolutionary in that it can simulate how building debris, which we cannot make sense of with the naked eye, was like before the earthquake .

The device first scans the wreckage of the already collapsed building and creates as realistic  simulations of how the building might have collapsed. It is a technology that can make mostly accurate predictions about vital information such as where the earthquake victims are, where tunnels should be drilled from the debris to reach the earthquake victims, and which parts of the debris might be dangerous to intervene in.

When the simulated result matches the real result, the rescuers dig small tunnels towards the earthquake victims’ locations and send them small pocket warmers in addition to the amount of food they need to maintain their body temperature . Thus, before starting the rescue efforts, it is ensured that the body temperature of the earthquake victims will be maintained and the rescue operations continue safely.

A technology that can detect survivors by body temperature: Heat Sensitive Debris Scan Cameras (Thermal Cameras)

These cameras, which can detect people under the rubble and enable them to be rescued, are among the technologies that are given priority to be used especially in post-earthquake rescue efforts.

In the camera, the color and tones of red show the body temperature of the people and therefore the signs of life . In other words, if the earthquake victims are reflected in red on the camera, it can be understood that they are alive. In this way, when red and its shades are found under the scanned debris, it can be questioned whether the earthquake victims are alive or not, and if they are alive, it can be concluded that an intervention should be made.

  • The images were taken at one of our eastern disaster areas.

Our lifeguards in the sky: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

Unmanned aerial vehicles, which can reach places where people cannot reach and scan large areas quickly, are a lifesaver for both rescue teams and earthquake victims, as they can save thousands of lives in a short time.

Unmanned aerial vehicles whose main functions are area scanning and debris detection make it easier to detect survivors under debris, especially when integrated into the heat-sensitive cameras we just mentioned. In addition to the unmanned aerial vehicles generally used by Chinese and Israeli rescue teams, Bayraktar TB2 and Bayraktar Akıncı unmanned aerial vehicles are also known to accompany the rescue efforts.

  • The footage was taken while a drone sent by China was conducting an area scan.

A device that can detect people from their heart rhythms: Heartbeat Detector (FINDER MK4)

This small device, which works by scanning for the heartbeats of those trapped under the debris, works with a logic similar to the heat-sensitive cameras we just mentioned .

The device sends low but powerful microwave signals to the area intended to be scanned , and if these signals coincide with their heartbeat or breathing and become irregular, it can be concluded that someone is alive.

This device can also provide access to more reliable data compared to other technologies we mentioned in terms of distinguishing the heart and breathing rhythms of humans and animals .  

A technology that can scan beyond walls and is often used in operations: Behind the Wall Radar System (DAR)

This system, also known as “DAR” for short, is another must in terms of detecting whether earthquake survivors trapped under debris or walls are alive or not.

This system makes use of ultra-wideband (UGB) signals to track movements in closed areas and to detect earthquake survivors if they move. One of the most commonly preferred methods during its use is to ask survivors to wave their hands or act in any other way. If the earthquake victim moves, the rescue team can conclude that someone is alive under the rubble and can initiate rescue efforts.

In addition to their widespread use in disasters, DAR systems have also undertaken other critical tasks in our country, such as counter-terrorism and hostage rescue .

Perfect for scanning debris from detecting breath rhythms: Carbon Dioxide Detectors

This device helps people to be removed from the debris by analyzing and detecting their breathing .

After disasters such as earthquakes, most of our biological activities, including the way we breathe, increase dramatically as our survival instincts are triggered. This is a sign of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions , and thus the earthquake victims can be identified in this way.

  • The image draws attention to the increase in carbon dioxide emissions after an earthquake in Nepal.

If these technologies are lacking, it would be impossible not to mention the traditional recovery methods and techniques used.

The most well-known technique and the most widely applied one in our country is the excavation of the debris by heavy vehicles such as diggers  . After as many large pieces of debris as possible have been scooped up, the remainder of the recovery falls to the experts. 

Experts are scanning the wreckage one last time, just in case. Here are some of the other techniques and technologies they used before and during the recovery process :

  1. Analysis of narrow sections of debris by adding video recorders to flexible rods.
  2. Taking advantage of rescue dogs’ enhanced sense of smell.
  3. When all available technologies, heavy tools and methods are used, hand-glove and digging manually.
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