Train derailment exercise works to improve emergency response

Train derailment exercise works to improve emergency response

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Emergency management is all about solving problems when disasters happen. On Tuesday, fire, police and medical personnel from the six coastal counties gathered with the focus on one specific potential crisis.

"We have a lot of rail lines in South Mississippi coming north- south and running east - west," said Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy. "It hits most of our major cities."

So a train derailment is a real possibility. With the help of CSX, emergency responders got together to learn how to deal with a train accident. It wasn't just about trains though. Jackson County Director of Emergency Services Earl Etheridge said exercises like this are also about team building and creating a unified command center across South Mississippi.

"Usually the only time you see anything like this is done as a big major event like for a hurricane or BP event or something like that," said Etheridge. "This is good training with that aspect that gives us good communication skills."

Harrison County's Director of Emergency Management Rupert Lacy said training like this is necessary because many of the first responders haven't had first hand experience with major disasters.

"We've had a lot of new responders move up in the ranks," said Lacy. "What we're trying to do is develop that next level of responders to be able to make those major decisions in a real world scenario."

Rupert added that those in the meeting learned about key trains rolling through the region and practiced how to deal with trains carrying hazardous materials.

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