Let me start by pointing out the possible Official Ask MC mascot to the left, submitted by Bill Bushman on the Facebook page. Â There’s still time to get your submissions in! Â Mostly because I have no deadline and there is no prize.
Today’s Ask MC is brought to us by another Facebook fan, Brian Rivera:
I have a couple of scenarios for you. As an employee of the railroad, I am curious as to how much first responders are trained to deal with trains and train accidents. I have a few insights to offer as well, I just want to see what you guys would do.
Okay, here goes.
Scenario #1: You are on patrol and you discover a tractor-trailer carrying roll steel high-centered on a railroad crossing. The track is known to be a busy main frequented by numerous trains. No information is available as to the crossing because the information sign has been painted by vandals. You know it is only a matter of time before the next train comes.
What do you do?Â
Scenario #2:Â You are dispatched to a call of a train versus vehicle accident in which no information is available other than that there are several serious injuries on scene.
Upon arrival, you notice two apparent things.
The locomotives are derailed, and there is a shuttle bus pushed nearly a quarter of a mile from the crossing. There are three people still trapped in the bus, alive and attempting to free themselves. A member of the train crew quickly makes contact with you and informs you that there are several alert cars containing chlorine (1017 zone 2) on the ground but he isn’t sure if they are leaking just yet. The crossing gates and lights, along with the crossing information sign, have been destroyed in the collision.
What do you do and what informationÂ must you haveÂ in order to begin dealing with this?
Thanks for the questions, Brian!
I have some follow-up questions that need answering before I can answer:
1. Is hysterical crying and/or running away a possibility?
2. Is this the train from Polar Express? Â If yes, is Santa on board?
3. If I save everyone, do I get to keep the conductor’s hat and/or pull the handle on the whistle?
4. Is Thomas the Tank Engine involved? Â He could notify Mr. Topham Hatt…that dude should be able to call the shots.
If you’ve ascertained that my questions are a stall technique, you win a prize.* Â I will attempt an answer based solely on what is, hopefully, common sense. Â I must add the caveat that there is no way this would happen in my jurisdiction as we don’t have any trains.
Regarding Scenario #1, I would immediately contact dispatch (because they have numbers for everybody), give them the location of the rig and request they contact the railroad to notify them of the hazard. Â I would do all that from a healthy distance away in case Amtrak happens to speed around a corner. Â I would also send one patrol officer in each direction of the tracks in an attempt to notify any on-coming trains of the impediment….maybe a couple mile in each direction?
Regarding Scenario #2, I will assume Fire/EMS is either already on scene or at minimum en route. Â Either way, I would notify them of the chlorine hazard (about which I know nothing, but I’m assuming it can’t be good) so they can, in turn, notify their HazMat people. Â I would try to confirm how many vehicles were involved. Â If it was just the train and the shuttle bus, I’d attempt to get info from the alert passengers as to how many people were in the vehicle and if they are all accounted for. Â I’d request as many units as are available and close the roadway and possibly (depending on the chlorine issue) either start having folks evacuate or shelter-in-place (I assume I would be taking direction from Fire on that one…that’s their bailiwick).
Once the scene was as secure as possible, I’d try to get the gist of the collision from the conductor and/or passengers of the shuttle bus. Â Again, I’d notify dispatch to alert the railroad of the collision and stop any/all other rail traffic.
That’s the best I can do with little/no specific knowledge regarding rail collisions.
Let me pass the buck on this one: Â If you’re a LEO and the above scenarios happened in your neck of the woods, what would you do? And a follow-up question: Brian, what would you have us do?
*Again with the prize? Â There is no prize. Â Why can’t you people just try to learn something? Â Sheesh…greedy!