By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Incidents involving trains, both serious and non-life threatening, happen throughout — the world, the country, the province and locally.
But, are fire departments in the area prepared for train incidences including accidents with vehicles or derailments? The Nobleford Fire Department is ready to host a new emergency preparedness program Apr. 20.
“It’s a first responder awareness program regarding train incidents. CP Rail has a program called ‘Railway 101’ and it’s a three-part series,” said Nobleford Fire Chief Ryan Wagner.
According to Wagner, representatives from CP Rail will visit the area to educate first responders on aspects of train anatomy, emergency shutdown, operations, what first responders have to do if they come across something and who to call, and how to identify certain hazards.
“Basically, just work with CP Rail, rather than not knowing when you come up on something,” he said, adding the program is special, as CP Rail is its own entity.
Wagner noted if CP Rail is willing to educate first responders in the area and put emergency personnel through training to make the group better first responders if a rail incident occurs — it’s a good thing.
The three-part series can branch out into more training in Colorado. Wagner noted members of his department are on the waiting list.
“It’s three-day training of extreme situations and training scenarios and live fire training and that’s called, ‘Crude by Rail,’” he said.
Beginning on Apr. 20, Dustin Ritter, the hazmat and emergency response officer for CP Rail, will be visiting the department for training, with members of the Coalhurst and Coaldale emergency services departments attending plus Nobleford’s full crew. Future dates for training will be decided on Apr. 20.
“He’s actually going to bring down some engines or empty rail cars and we’re going to go over them. The final day, we do some live fire training and do some full scenarios and just get used to the big machines,” said Wagner.
Over the years, Wagner said, the Nobleford Fire Department and other departments have attended to a few incidents with CP Rail but since CP Rail is its own entity, it’s a bit hard to understand what limitations exist between CP Rail and first responders.
“We had a train rip through a cattle liner over by Monarch last fall. You get there and luckily no one was hurt and the train was fine, a little bit of bent steel, but it was an eye opener about how much little we know about working with certain groups. This is a great opportunity,” said Wagner.
But, why do train incidences still occur including accidents with vehicles and train derailments?
“If you’re involved with a train and a vehicle on a roadway, there was obviously some neglect. They’re not watching where they’re driving their car. That’s a part of it — it comes down to driver error. If a train derails — I don’t know what to tell you. I can’t even speculate of why that happens,” he added.
Wagner noted there was a train derailment south of Nobleford many years ago.
“The chances of it happening — the more and more you hear about it in the media — it just becomes a reality,” said Wagner, as he posed the question — Are we prepared for this?
“And we want to be prepared and we want to be efficient at it,” he said, adding this program is the start of being prepared and proactive.