Wednesday, December 9, 2015

RI First Responders Train for Rail Derailments

(SOURCE: TurnTo10 -

Rhode Island emergency responders had a refresher on managing a train derailment Wednesday, but without heading to the scene.

They used a tabletop exercise to help them prepare for every possible contingency.
Two rail disasters this year were in their minds.

An Amtrak Northeast Regional train derailed in May, killing eight people and severely injuring 200 on board.

A freight train derailed and caught fire in Tennessee in July. It was carrying highly flammable and toxic gas. More than 5,000 residents were evacuated. Shelters were put in place. Officers were hospitalized for breathing in fumes.

"We always want to take the lessons learned from real world events as well as exercises and incorporate that into our planning," said Matt McCann of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ethanol and heating fuel oil is unloaded at the Port of Providence, and the Providence and Worcester Railroad runs through Rhode Island, transporting all types of hazardous materials.

The railroad line passes the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, where federal officials and emergency responders met Wednesday to make sure their plan works.

"On the rails across the country, we haul freight, we haul people, we haul hazardous materials, chemicals. So this scenario is a rail car that has a leak," said Peter Gaynor, director of the Rhode Island EMA.

"It requires collaboration from the whole community to respond and recover from these events," McCann said.

"These incidents have no boundaries. It may happen in Cumberland, but it's going to affect Central Falls, Pawtucket, maybe even into Massachusetts," Gaynor said.

Planners say it's not if but when something will happen, and emergency responders are making sure when they get that 911 call they are ready.

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