TAYSIDE Fire and Rescue have successfully completed a training exercise in dealing with a chemical incident at a railway.
The training session, ‘Exercise Thomas’, took place at the Bridge of Dun on Sunday with fire crews from Montrose and Brechin alongside McAlpine Road and Kingsway East crews from Dundee.
Six staff from Caledonian Railway also participated and gave advice.
The co-ordinator of the exercise, Mike Cassie from Tayside Fire and Rescue, said: “Six appliances in total were involved with the training exercise including heavy rescue units, a command support unit and two rescue pumps.
“We were given the scenario of a chemical rail incident where a passenger train had collided with a chemical tanker.
“The passenger train had then derailed and there was someone stuck underneath the wheels.”
The exercise was part of a series of training packages currently being undertaken by Tayside Fire and Rescue.
Mr Cassie continued: “We are well placed here in Montrose for training for a variety of incidents, there is the railway at Bridge of Dun, a secure unit, a pharmaceutical plant and a harbour so we hope to have more exercises like this one.”
For the railway training package personnel had a month to prepare for the exercise at the Bridge of Dun with this being the final test.
Mr Cassie added: “On the day we turned out as normal with Montrose sending the first appliance out to the scene. Brechin arrived about five minutes later with the two units from Dundee arriving half an hour after that.
“We secured the scene and stopped the railway to ensure that we would have a safe area to work in. Then we had to split the incident into sectors - in this case it was the derailment and the chemical.
“The six staff on the train said that a small fire had started on board but had been extinguished. However, there were still some passengers unaccounted for. The breathing apparatus teams were then dispatched on board to search the carriages.
“As carriage ‘A’ had derailed it had to be stabilised in order to remove a casualty from under the wheels. For this we used a heavy duty airbag which is capable of lifting up to 58 tons.
“Once that sector was done and dusted we moved on to the chemical incident.
“Wearing chemical suits we then had to check for leaking chemicals and get the data we needed to treat the incident from the ‘Hazchem Plate’ and recount it to Fire Control.
“We were told to evacuate and a specialist gave us advice on how best to deal with the incident.
“Men in suits went in and found the problem - a gas leak - by shutting down the valve the exercise drew to a conclusion.”
The training began at 11am and was finished by 3pm but in a live incident this could have taken much longer.
Mr Cassie said: “If it had been live then everyone from all crews would have been there and specialist equipment such as a crane to lift the derailed train would have been brought in.”
He added: “We would like to thank the staff at Caledonian Railway for their time, enthusiasm and expertise, and also for giving us the venue for the training.