As a live telecast from the earthquake zone showed soldiers digging in rubble, then carefully carrying out a wide-eyed girl with their hands, Xu Deshi leapt from his sofa with a roar. 'Wrong! Use your lower arms to raise her, not your hands. Cover up her eyes, quickly!' shouted the retired professional rescue worker. Mr Xu, former leader of the China Search and Rescue Team, said the survivor's back and limbs - probably broken - could not counter the pull of gravity, and rescuers should distribute her weight as widely as possible. Also, after the girl had been in darkness for days, her eyes, suddenly exposed to direct sunlight, might not be able to adjust, Mr Xu said. Pain, faintness and even some permanent damage might follow. He said he was not criticising the People's Liberation Army soldiers, because they have no professional training, proper equipment or adequate rest and had risked their lives to save people trapped by the quake. 'No professional rescuer, by training, would dash into wreckage consisting of cement and iron bars while there was a possibility a five-storey wall next to it could fall whenever there was an aftershock,' he said. 'No disaster could force professionals to jump out of a plane in cloudy weather and try to land in an isolated village at the foot of steep mountains. 'You must save yourself before you can save others. That is the first rule we learn in training. But soldiers don't seem to know this, and they don't seem to care much about it ... [even though] they deserve our highest respect.' Mr Xu said his biggest regret was that there were far from enough rescue professionals on the mainland and their search and rescue equipment varied in quantity and quality, meaning most rescue efforts in the disaster zone had to be carried out by inexperienced soldiers using their bare hands or primitive tools. The mainland has established 26 search and rescue teams in different provinces since 2001. Each team has more than 60 members, but some of the teams are so new that the order to go to Sichuan arrived before their equipment could come from overseas. The national team, with more than 200 members, is the biggest and best equipped, and it was the first to arrive in Sichuan after the earthquake. Their techniques and tools significantly increased the chances of earthquake victims surviving, Mr Xu said. 'The tools and technology are specialised for searching and creating exit space for survivors ... they could save a victim who would never be reached by hands and shovels.' The national team arrived in the zone with two 16-tonne trucks loaded with more than 600 specialised tools. Other teams at the provincial level might not be as well equipped, but they should be more efficient than the general public, Mr Xu said. But he admitted that the damage was so great, road conditions so difficult and the number of collapsed buildings so enormous that even if every professional rescuer went to Sichuan, it would not make a big difference to the final death toll.