Jerry Dubuisson unlocked the Long Beach Fire Department's newest trailer. "Inside is some of the hazmat response equipment that we've recently acquired," he said.
Long Beach didn't have the trailer -- or the emergency equipment inside three months ago -- when a freight train hit a truck and one of its empty cars derailed. On that day, nobody was hurt, and a disaster was averted. The city may not be as lucky the next time there's a crash on the tracks. "I don't think any department on the coast is prepared for everything," Dubuisson said, referring to emergencies that had the potential of a catastrophic train derailment.
Right after that November scare, CSX volunteered to brings its expert trainers to town. The trainers set up tables at the West Harrison County Civic Center and walked local rescue teams through a mock train derailment. Bill Ferroli ran the exercise. When he met with a group at the operations' table, he gave them an important reminder. "This incident is too big to work from the back of a car, the back of a fire truck," he said. "You're going to need help."
This simulation had five different command posts. Sixteen participants played roles they would actually act out in a real train derailment.
Bill Gleason is with CSX. "Instead of waiting until something does happen to find out how everything is supposed to work, we can do it all together right here," the CSX Hazardous Materials Manager said.
Dubuisson said the training was vital for his small department. "You try to be prepared for those things that are most likely to occur," the Long Beach fireman said. "And from that point work upwards. So this is going to enhance our ability."
CSX sponsored the three hour training exercise. A homeland security grant paid for the hazmat equipment now available to the Long Beach Fire Department.
The Long Beach Fire Department, AMR and Harrison County emergency personnel all participated in the CSX training program.