How far do we go for Training?

What is a steam train doing on a Savannahlander blog? And the country side doesn’t look very Savannahry either! With this post comes a slight departure from the normal Savannahlander type posts, just so you know that not everything we do happens in the far north of the State.  Through our Tourism and Heritage Railway Peak Body (ATRQ), we attended an emergency training exercise put on by the Southern Downs Steam Railway, in Warwick, down in the states chilly south. When I say we, perhaps I should explain that it was me that went down alone, as the the other chaps had a trains to run. But it is important as an operator that we have a presence at events like this so that we can learn from them, or see where we might improve our own Emergency Response Plan. Without testing or validating your plan, it is really only words on paper, and this is no good if you have to manage a real incident some time in the future. I’m also using this post as a bit of a report on the event, as well as making it a central repository for some of the photos that were taken. I won’t do too much typing… most of the info is in the captions on the photos.

The Southern Downs Steam Railway organised an excellent ‘incident’ in which to test out their emergency response plans, choosing a level crossing collision as the incident. Delegates from other T&H railways were also in attendance, generally as observers so that they could take back what they learned to their own railways. Members of the rail safety regulators office were also there. Arrangements were also made that the event was to be filmed so that an edited  DVD could be sent out to ATRQ member railways to be played and learned from by those who could not attend.  There were four cameras shooting away  producing over four hours of footage to be sifted through and edited. One or two still photos were also taken, as can be seen from the gallery below. Despite the amount of video being taken, the still images filled some gaps where the video missed certain events, and proved to be handy to fill in some blanks. The meta data also allowed for some handy time lines.

An old van was borrowed from a local wrecker, and placed at what seemed to be extremely close to the track. Turned out to be perfectly located. The train was brought to a stand after passing through the crossing, at a spot where it would be reasonably expected that it would reach after the collision.

Train crew quickly assessed the scene and made the necessary reports and calls for help. It didn’t seem long to us observers (I’m pretty sure those involved in the exercise thought otherwise) but soon the emergency services began to arrive, and  the scene appeared to be a chaotic mess of Emergency Service Vehicles. But in fact there was order and function happening in a very impressive line up of assisting agencies.

The incident eventually worked its way to its conclusion, and at the end we were treated to a demo of the ‘firey’s’ attacking the van with the jaws of life. Once everything was finished and packed up, the train was released and went back to the depot, where a  debrief was held with reps from those that attended.

Everybody was happy with the outcome of the event, and typically, a few matters were raised and will be dealt with in due course – which is precisely why these exercises are done.

Our video editors were hard at it during the rest of the afternoon and well into the night, and by the next morning there was a rough cut ready to be  viewed. Here the value of the footage was highlighted when issues that were missed during the previous debrief were identified, or some matters clarified, by the images shown on the footage. Steve, if you read this, maybe we should put together a condensed 10 minute youtube video we can post here.

As mentioned above, there are plenty of captions and important timings in the captions to the photos below.