Editor’s note: The following photos and story are part of a training drill. No one was injured or killed.
By Wyndi Veigel
“Collin County to Farmersville first responders we are getting reports of a train derailment behind the Onion Shed, numerous victims being reported.”
These words could be heard followed by numerous sirens as area first responders participated in a mass casualty drill in Farmersville July 18.
Despite the heat of summer temperatures, numerous departments including Farmersville PD, Farmersville FD, Wylie Fire-Rescue, Princeton FD, Josephine FD along with the Collin County Sheriff’s Office, Collin County Fire Marshal’s Office, Collin County Medical Examiners Office, AMR and Collin County Homeland Security participated in the drill.
Rockwall CERT also helped in the exercise by providing real live victims and actors during the scenario.
Upon arriving on scene, first responders saw two overturned train cars with a substance billowing from them.
The scenario was that the train cars contained chlorine gas, so the hot zone immediately surrounding the cars could not be entered by first responders.
Several first responders “were injured” when they entered the hot zone, taking them completely out of play for the exercise.
While treating more than 40 victims, EMS and fire personnel had to triage the patients and carry them to be transported by ambulance services.
Meanwhile. fire personnel started the aerial line off of the fire truck ladder spraying water over the scene to keep the chlorine gas from spreading to the surrounding area.
Eventually, Wylie Fire-Rescue Hazmat Squad arrived on scene to go inside the containers in order to seal the leak of chlorine gas from the train cars.
As things seemed to quiet down within the scenario, a broadcast came over the radio.
“We just received information that this is a possible terrorist attack. Please be cautious around any standing items, trash cans and containers.”
With this new information, the scenario took on a new tone.
Emergency personnel were more alert, more on edge, paying closer attention to their surroundings.
The area now became a tightly controlled crime scene with crime tape visible around the entire area. Ultimately, if this were to occur in real life, the scene would have been secured much further out with the train tracks stopped to all traffic. Then the FBI would be called.
After securing the scene, the medical examiner’s office came in to pronounce the deceased and to investigate.
At the end of the scenario, emergency personnel gathered under the Onion Shed to share lunch and to have a debriefing on what they learned and what they can improve on.