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Railroad mass-casualty drill notable for realism in Riparius

Emergency responders take part in a mock disaster on Wednesday, July 25 in Riparius. The drill simulated a car-train accident along the Saratoga & North Creek Railway.

Emergency responders take part in a mock disaster on Wednesday, July 25 in Riparius. The drill simulated a car-train accident along the Saratoga & North Creek Railway. Photo by Phillip Sherotov.

— Amy Drexel, the emergency services coordinator for Warren County EMS, said they try to reproduce the conditions that responders will face during a real incident as much as possible in order to prepare them for an actual incident. This is especially critical when responders have had no prior experience with the incident type.



Mark Ellsworth, the safety and security coordinator for Iowa Pacific Holdings (parent company of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway), explained that the Federal Railway Administration requires that they have one such drill a year. He was pleased with the level of coordination and cooperation between the various agencies involved and felt that things were handled efficiently overall.

LaFlure explained that after the drill every chief, squad captain and supervisor would be doing a “hotwash” — filling out a report that evaluates what went well, what didn’t, and how things that didn’t could be improved. These reports would be gathered into an after-action report that would be used in future training and decision making. They were thinking of making the next exercise involve a train in the woods, and again every effort would be made to create a realistic scenario for responders to face.

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