Railroad emergencies can involve multiple casualties, hazardous materials emergencies, fires, and other hazards. The challenges inherent to these emergencies run the gamut. Though not every fire department responds to these types of incidents routinely, it is still important to make sure the members of your department are thoroughly familiar with the guidelines that apply to these types of incidents.
Howard A. Chatterton, in his book, Volunteer Training Drills-A Year of Weekly Drills, suggests five areas that should be reviewed when preparing for such emergencies:
- Increase awareness of the types of equipment and materials that move along your local train lines.
- Review the procedures for contacting railroad authorities.
- Review the procedures for stopping trains during an emergency.
- Review the procedures for accessing a trapped locomotive crew.
- Review the procedures for using the emergency fuel shutoff and for setting the brakes on locomotives.
You could also add procedures for subway emergencies and securing the power on electric passenger trains.
When you plan for the drill, contact your local railroad safety offices and arrange for a briefing. Be specific about what you want to cover. Note the remaining voltage charge that exists after the engine or alternator of a train has been shut down. Also be sure to obtain shutdown procedures for all models of locomotives you are likely to encounter. The only materials required are the screen and projector required by the railroad representative.
Base your debriefing on your own observations and input from the railroad representative.
If possible, arrange to have actual rail cars, locomotives, and/or electric passenger trains will prove invaluable as your members learn the shutdown procedures for the actual trains that might roll through your calling area.
As with any drill, discuss what went right, what went wrong, and what to do differently the next time.
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