Aim: The article indicates the basic principles for conducting rescue operations in the case of structural collapse. The focus of the article includes operations on rubble sites and nearby unstable constructions. It describes technical safety solutions and procedural approaches which have a significant iinfluence on rescuer safety. It also looks at basic safety elements, such as personal protective equipment. The article discusses the international missions of Urban Search And Rescue Poland, but only in relation to its work on rubble sites.

Introduction: Many publications covering operational tactics and techniques emphasise the role of rescuer safety as a factor of fundamental importance for all operation participants. Due to the necessity of having many areas of expertise and engineering skills, rescuers deployed to structural failures are required to have extensive knowledge and use specialised rescue techniques. For many years, search and rescue teams have introduced and developed methods of providing safe structural collapse response operations. Some of those methods are easily accessible and uncomplicated, while other require specialised equipment, knowledge and experience. The safety of operations during structural failures is constantly improved as knowledge and technology develop.

Conclusions: Reconnaissance is known as the first and the most important stage of the operation. Structural collapse creates the risk of exposure to secondary threats, and also to harmful and burdensome factors. The aspects which should be considered include: unstable elements of construction, possibility of total collapse, threats caused by utilities (gas, water, electricity), threats caused by pressurised gas containers (e.g. LPG containers), risk of fire, biological hazards, noise, temperature, humidity, lighting Due to the above, recognising threats during a structural failure is not a stage of the operation but a continuous activity until threats are eliminated or the operation is completed.

Relevance in practice: Structural collapse response operations involve specific threats. A structured training system in this field is something relatively new. The article indicates the basic elements determining the safety of rescuers and discusses the work safety system.

Keywords: structural failure, operational safety principles, search and rescue team

Type of article: review article