Washington State Train Derailment and the Importance of Training Exercises
By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
On Monday, Dec. 18, a train derailed and plunged from a bridge onto a major highway near Olympia, Washington. Reports stated that some victims needed to be extricated with a chain saw, while other reports state that at least three died as a result of their injuries from the train derailment. Early investigations indicate that the train was traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Washington Disaster Highlights Training Need
Emergencies of this magnitude are serious for some of the obvious reasons: resource management, patient management, transportation of the victims to area hospitals - all of the logistics involved to effectively manage these important pieces, and of course, making sure that there is enough personnel to manage the incident. While incidents like this are not as large as disaster events like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Harvey, the Washington derailment highlights the consistent need for training exercises and appropriate budgets.
Emergency management is an 'up-and-coming field.' The industry is growing substantially and is gaining tremendous momentum as a discipline. In doing so, training exercises become vital for personnel to keep them thinking about appropriate measures to take if faced with a certain scenario. Organizations like the International Fire Chiefs Association and the International Public Safety Association offer courses and webinars, respectively, to help train public safety personnel. The International Fire Chiefs Association offers courses in handling train emergencies. These courses are ultimately important to help keep personnel up-to-date on appropriate emergency procedures.
Ultimately, jurisdictions must continue to budget for training classes like this. It can be easy to not want to sign up for such classes, (especially when some of these emergency scenarios are rare), but doing so will save lives and property. It will also allow personnel to contemplate these emergency situations differently.
Training And Budgets
Of course, any time a disaster like the train derailment in Washington State happens, there are numerous pieces that have to come together for the event to be effectively managed. Personnel and resource management combined with excellent logistics are important components of the management of the disaster. But, the training and budgets leading up to the event are vital pieces to effectively managing the event, too. Jurisdictions need to appropriately budget for training classes for their emergency personnel - and in rare types of events. Doing so will allow them to think outside-the-box - potentially tightening their skills during a major event - ultimately saving lives in the process.