Training exercise held
By CARRIE SCHUMAKER
Associated Press Writer
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) - Imagine a chemical spill or a release of
anthrax on a subway train. It's almost unthinkable, but in today's
climate of terrorism, it's something public safety personnel must
be prepared for.
Montgomery County firefighters led about a dozen colleagues from
various parts of the country in a drill Thursday. They went into a
special Metro training tunnel and practiced for at least two
In the first, firefighters had to stop a cylinder that was
leaking a toxic chemical, then rescue passengers from the train. In
the second, firefighters were trying to determine if anthrax had
been released on the train.
"Ten years ago we would have never needed this kind of
training," said Battalion Chief Bob Stephan. Stephan, the
hazardous materials team leader from Montgomery County, said his
team is often used at the tunnel to help train others, but he's
especially glad they're getting a lot of practice themselves.
The firefighters go through all the steps of the rescue,
including wearing hazmat gear and being decontaminated after it's
"This is a real confidence builder," said Jason Pastuch, a
hazmat specialist from Cherry Hill, N.J.
"Anytime you have hands-on, you take a higher level back with
you to your job," said Kelly Knepper, a firefighter from
Lt. P.J. Donaghue, of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue
Department calls the training tunnel "invaluable."
"This is as close as we can get to reality," he added.
Metro opened the "Safety Training Tunnel" in May 2002. All
police and fire personnel in the Washington region use it, as well
as the Marine Corps, FBI and other federal agencies. Some 3,000
personnel have trained there.
"The tunnel is not only to aid the public but to aid the first
responders to aid the public," said Victor Size, emergency
management coordinator for Metro.
Size said people from all over the world have come to use the
training tunnel, believed to be the only one of its kind in the
The two trains used in the drills are real Metro cars that were
involved in an accident in January 1996. Size said he hopes to also
soon receive the rail cars that were involved in an accident at the
Woodley Park station last November.
Metro doesn't charge to use the facility. Size said it costs
about $500 for each training it puts on and it's available for use
24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The firefighters attending Thursday's training were attending
the International Association of Fire Chiefs Conference taking
place in Baltimore this weekend.
On the Net:
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department:
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
On the note of tunnels, we have been using the following for training for the past year. I believe we have used the site four or five times now.