The first steps following a collapse are critical. They will blaze the trail for subsequent
investigations, and they may prevent further damage or loss of life.
The activities immediately following a collapse profoundly influence the success
of subsequent technical investigations. So much of the evidence associated
with a collapse is of a perishable nature—and some of it highly perishable—that
swift action is needed to preserve as much as possible. Snow will melt, fracture
surfaces will corrode, the debris will be removed, and memories will fade.
The forensic engineer who is called in following a collapse plays a crucial role
in determining what those first steps should be. He or she is the most qualified to
recognize perishable evidence and its potential value.
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