"This is only a test"

If you happened to be traveling on 183 through Leander last Thursday, you may have done a double take at the Leander Station. Several fire engines, police vehicles and ambulances were on the scene participating in a Capital MetroRail emergency preparedness drill.

The scenario: A car has collided with the MetroRail train at the Leander Station crossing. Eighty passengers onboard the train, as well as the driver of the car, have varying degrees of injury. Ready? And, go!

At 10:58 a.m., the train engineer called into dispatch to report the collision, and thus set in motion the drill. Within minutes the Leander Police Department was on the scene, followed by the fire department and EMS. The drill lasted almost four hours, and every angle of the response was analyzed and evaluated by safety experts.

What was the point? Obviously the main answer is to help us prepare for this kind of situation. “It’s new,” says Leander Deputy Fire Chief Bill Gardner. “It gives us a good opportunity to practice a unified approach.” If a crisis of this magnitude actually occurred, it would require the help of and response by multiple departments in surrounding communities.

Following the drill, the participants debriefed and got useful feedback from the evaluators. A few other drills are planned between now and the Red Line debut on March 30.

Here is some footage from the drill taken by Joe Wrubleski in Capital Metro’s training department. In the video, yours truly plays the part of newscaster. Note to self: don’t give up day job.

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