I work part time for a local newspaper, and at the end of the summer I was invited
to go along to the hospital to do a piece about how Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue's
Urban Search and Rescue team were using the building for training before it's demolished.
They were there to practice their search and rescue skills, so there was lots of
cutting holes in walls and floors involved. They were also training dogs for use in
search and rescue, although I didn't see much of that happening. Not really in the
spirit of Urban Exploration, I know, but I think it's good to know that somebody
was getting use out of bits of the building before they were destroyed. The guys
there that day were called not long after to help after the Asian earthquake. They
told me that the ability to train in a derelict building of such a grand scale,
where there were plenty of nooks and crannies and plenty of debris around was
useful because they could quite accurately imitate the situations they would be
in after an actual collapse. As for the building itself, I haven't been around to
see what's happening. I imagine that demolition work is in full swing, but don't
know for sure.
I didn't get the full tour, obviously, and couldn't get my bearings properly as everything looked pretty much the same - all brown, mostly peeling paints with bits of broken tiles and glass. In the parts I saw at least, pretty much everything had been removed, save for a couple of toilets and a bath I spotted. I wish I had remembered my camera! Our photographer got some shots of the guys doing demolitions but was reluctant to go anywhere that wasn't necessary. I, however, got all the fun jobs - time spent in a rather poky little room, I was told that it was a seclusion room (door closed - good job I'm not claustrophobic) whilst one of the guys demonstrated echo location, then rather a lot of time spent 'trapped' in an unidentified room (it had a sink and towel dispenser, and I think it was green - that's all I recall) while they drilled a hole in the wall, sent a camera through to peer at me, and then proceeded to cut a massive chunk out of the wall to get the survivor (me) through. They offered to stretcher me from one end of the corridor to the other, through holes they had cut in the walls, but I declined! This was followed by a quick jaunt into the subways, where I was shown how they would get a trapped survivor through the floor (again, I declined to actually experience this myself).
One thing I did notice was how quiet the place was. At one point I wanted to talk to the team leader about what they were doing and he took me a short way down a corridor and around a corner to a large room with cells down one side - it was silent! A short way away there were all these guys with piles of noisy equipment, and yet this room was completely, entirely silent. A bit of an odd sensation, although I didn't really have chance to consider it as random holes kept popping up around the place (search and rescue again, not just wear and tear!) and I had to keep my wits about me.
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