Practice is Key for Incident Response on Rail Systems

Posted on October 25, 2017 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

SEPTA provides awareness training that allows firefighters and paramedics to practice their response procedures for rail incidents. Photo: SEPTA
SEPTA provides awareness training that allows firefighters and paramedics to practice their response procedures for rail incidents. Photo: SEPTA
Working in subway tunnels is difficult under any circumstances and when you have to maneuver around an electrified third rail in an environment with less lighting, the task is even more daunting. Now imagine what it is like during an emergency — a train with equipment issues, someone struck, or smoke in the tunnel — and you need to evacuate a vehicle packed with passengers. For transportation crews that work on the trains every day, their equipment familiarity is key to a safe, quick incident response.

But what about fire and rescue personnel called to the scene of a crisis? They are well-prepared to handle injuries and fires, but where do they access the tracks, hook up hoses, or open vehicle doors?  

A training seat is part of the exercise. Photo: SEPTA
A training seat is part of the exercise. Photo: SEPTA

Every year, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) partners with the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) on awareness training that allows firefighters and paramedics to practice their response procedures to an emergency on SEPTA’s Broad Street Line subway.

“We are fortunate to live in a city that has one of the most elite fire response agencies in the nation,” said Jim Fox, SEPTA’s assistant GM, System Safety. “Allowing PFD crews to work with our station and vehicle equipment before an incident occurs not only enhances their skills, the exercise assures our passengers that emergency personnel are ready for any situation they might encounter.”

Firefighters review how to open doors of SEPTA trains. Photo: SEPTA
Firefighters review how to open doors of SEPTA trains. Photo: SEPTA

Over the course of a month, SEPTA System Safety officers conducted subway awareness training sessions for firefighters and medics whose stations have first alarm assignments to those locations.  

“We value our partnership with SEPTA,” said Adam K. Thiel, PFD Commissioner.  “This specialized training is critically important to our mission of keeping people safe 24x7x365.” 

The exercises are designed as a refresher and to reach firefighters and paramedics that are new to the PFD or to firehouses near Broad Street Line stations. SEPTA representatives review the locations of alarms and hose hook-ups, the process for requesting third rail power shut off, how to open doors of trains that are disabled without power and evacuating passengers from a train, including reviewing the location of emergency exits from street level.

Emergency exit training. Photo: SEPTA
Emergency exit training. Photo: SEPTA

SEPTA also supplies PFD firehouses located near subway stations with keys that open tunnel emergency exits and radios that provide a direct line of communication with Authority personnel during an emergency. The awareness exercises allowed SEPTA to ensure PFD has the correct tools and that they are functional.

“You have to be able to get to and into the train as quickly as possible, to get your evacuation procedure up and running," Fox said. "You don’t want to get to the scene of an incident and find that your equipment isn’t working or that you have to really search for anything you will need.”

After the last session in mid-October, SEPTA had trained more than 400 PFD firefighters and medics in 2017.   

Heather Redfern is the Public Information Manager for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

April 17, 2018

Transit Facility Center Gives Help, Hope to Those 'With Nowhere to Go'

Transit facilities — train stations, bus depots and transportation centers — are often the shelter of choice for people experiencing homelessness, especially when weather conditions make it too dangerous to stay outside.

April 11, 2018

Mass Transit Must Integrate Data, Tech to Be Part of Mobility Landscape

Startups and legacy industries are harnessing big data to transform and revolutionize the ways their services are offered. Among the sectors sitting on the richest mines of data is public transportation, with municipalities and service providers boasting decades of data on urban transportation and mobility.

March 27, 2018

Public Transit Needs a Voice in Automated/Autonomous Vehicle Regulatory Talks

This technology will forever change transportation on a local level and national scale; the time is ripe for public transit agencies and OEMs to be more visible in shaping the outcome of these discussions, regulations, and laws.

March 22, 2018

Lyft and Uber Can Save Transit — if Transit Gets on Board

Bad news for transit keeps rolling in. Transit ridership declined in 34 of the 40 largest metropolitan areas over the past three years. While ridership routinely fluctuates in response to economic upturns and downturns and other trends, this decline seems more profound.

March 7, 2018

Railway cybersecurity must never be taken lightly

Many cybersecurity breaches are traced back to human error, from lack of compliance with security policies to configuration errors. Even the best-trained staff can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of daily alerts that need to be tackled.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close