SEPTA emergency drill for real life catastrophe

WHITEMARSH, Pa. - November 20, 2011

A car was crushed by a train on the Septa tracks, and dangling live wires prevented rescuers from getting inside, and victims were trapped and injured.

That was the scene along River Road here in Whitemarsh Township Saturday morning during a special SEPTA drill.

The good news is that this is just a drill put on by SEPTA in coordination with the police and firefighters to test how they would respond should an incident like this really occur.

"Each year the federal railroad administration requires us to test our emergency preparedness plan," said SEPTA spokesperson Kristin Geiger.

The scenario was developed by Septa to simulate real conditions that first responders might find. Volunteers in red shirts played victims, each with a different kind of injury.

It was test of how well the responders from many different agencies, SEPTA, police, EMTs, professional and volunteer firefighters, could work together.

"It's that coordination when you start meeting everybody, you start working together, and you have those communication lines open, and if you practice together, you are really going to do better when those things really happen, and you are under trying situations," said Chief Mike Beatty. Every moment of the exercise was documented, in writing, photos and videos.

"They're being evaluated as the drill is taking place, and at the end, they will evaluate the video and see how everyone did in the exercise," said Geiger.

Over the upcoming days and weeks, the agencies and individuals involved will all review the evaluations, and come up with solutions to problems that arose in the drill, all with the hope of creating a better outcome in the face of a real emergency.

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