Extrication Zone, Fire EMS, Firefighting

Amtrak Derailment Operations: the First 24 Minutes

Issue 10 and Volume 168.

BY VINCENT P. MULRAY On the evening of May 12, 2015, as I was documenting daily staffing and reviewing incident reports, just a few miles to the east, on one of the busiest and fastest rail lines, a passenger train was departing from the 30th Street Station and heading to New York City. At 9:28 p.m., the public address system at the Kensington and Castor Avenue fire station dispatched my resource identifier-Battalion 10. Within a minute, I was heading to a passenger train derailment that would challenge first responders and supporting agencies. Phil McLaughlin, a Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department retired deputy commissioner, often said, “Experience is our hardest teacher-it gives us the test first, then the lesson,” emphasizing the benefits of simulated emergency incident training and the study of past emergency responses. Our department was tested on that night when Amtrak Train 188, traveling at more than 100 miles per…

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