NY MTA Transit Police attend Passenger Rail Rescue course at Disaster City

Ten officers from the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority Emergency Services Unit (ESU) attended a special Passenger Rail Rescue course on April 14-18, 2014, at Disaster City®. The course ended with a night exercise requiring students to rescue “moulaged” victims from a derailed passenger train.

The training exercise was designed to provide a variety of difficult rescue scenarios typical of a passenger rail disaster.  The course uses recent passenger rail disasters as case studies for students to learn what worked at other incidents.  The week-long course teaches students how to use proven rescue techniques within the tight and challenging spaces of a passenger train, said TEEX Training Coordinator Brian Smith. Unlike the Disaster Medical Specialist class that was held the week prior for the Texas A&M College of Medicine, where victims are triaged and treated on-scene by medically trained responders, this course focuses on extracting the victims from the derailed train and then conducting extended rescue operations on those who are left entrapped.

“These guys are finding them, stabilizing them, and getting them out fast,” Smith said.  Training Director Brian Freeman also pointed out the quick response time of the group: “Since they are used to working as a team, they can work really fast at getting these people out.”  In addition to hands-on training aboard the seven-car Amtrak passenger derailment, the students also heard presentations on the 2005 London Underground bombings and the 2013 Train Bombings in Spain.

TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute’s Rescue Program conducts this 40-hour Passenger Rail Rescue course in cooperation with Amtrak, which donated the passenger train to TEEX.  The course was designed and developed in cooperation with Amtrak to provide participants with the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform search and rescue operations at a passenger train or commuter train disaster. This course was also taken last year by 15 members of the New Jersey Transit Authority ESU Unit.