|Commenced in January 2007||Frequency: Monthly||Edition: International||Paper Count: 5|
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) is a functional capability that has been developed to allow the United Kingdom Fire and Rescue Service to deal with ‘major incidents’ primarily involving structural collapse. The nature of the work undertaken by USAR means that staying out of a damaged or collapsed building structure is not usually an option for search and rescue personnel. As a result there is always a risk that they themselves could become victims. For this paper, a systematic and investigative review using desk research was undertaken to explore the role which structural engineering can play in assisting search and rescue personnel to conduct structural assessments when in the field. The focus is on how search and rescue personnel can assess damaged and collapsed building structures, not just in terms of structural damage that may been countered, but also in relation to structural stability. Natural disasters, accidental emergencies, acts of terrorism and other extreme events can vary significantly in nature and ferocity, and can cause a wide variety of damage to building structures. It is not possible or, even realistic, to provide search and rescue personnel with definitive guidelines and procedures to assess damaged and collapsed building structures as there are too many variables to consider. However, understanding what implications damage may have upon the structural stability of a building structure will enable search and rescue personnel to better judge and quantify risk from a life-safety standpoint. It is intended that this will allow search and rescue personnel to make informed decisions and ensure every effort is made to mitigate risk, so that they themselves do not become victims.
Perfectly suited for natural or man-made emergency and disaster management situations such as flood, earthquakes, tornadoes, or tsunami, multi-target search path planning for a team of rescue agents is known to be computationally hard, and most techniques developed so far come short to successfully estimate optimality gap. A novel mixed-integer linear programming (MIP) formulation is proposed to optimally solve the multi-target multi-agent discrete search and rescue (SAR) path planning problem. Aimed at maximizing cumulative probability of successful target detection, it captures anticipated feedback information associated with possible observation outcomes resulting from projected path execution, while modeling agent discrete actions over all possible moving directions. Problem modeling further takes advantage of network representation to encompass decision variables, expedite compact constraint specification, and lead to substantial problem-solving speed-up. The proposed MIP approach uses CPLEX optimization machinery, efficiently computing near-optimal solutions for practical size problems, while giving a robust upper bound obtained from Lagrangean integrality constraint relaxation. Should eventually a target be positively detected during plan execution, a new problem instance would simply be reformulated from the current state, and then solved over the next decision cycle. A computational experiment shows the feasibility and the value of the proposed approach.