GA: Mock Train Wreck 'Drills' Agencies

June 11--THOMASVILLE -- An out-of-the-way rail line was the scene Wednesday where a transit bus, a truck pulling a trailer loaded with livestock and a train converged.

The scene was an exercise with the focus on communicating with the Emergency Operation Center at the Emergency Services Center on Remington Avenue and providing updates to Archbold Memorial Hospital.

At a railroad intersection between Cassidy Road and Glenwood Drive, a GaFl Railnet train made up of two locomotives and 42 cars arrived at the intersection at the same time as a transit bus and a truck pulling a trailer of goats.

"Communication in every event is critical," said Chris Jones, Thomas County Emergency Management Agency director and Thomas County Fire/Rescue chief.

Chiefs and department heads of responding agencies were not involved in the drill. "Everyday" personnel handled the situation, Jones explained.

"The hospital needed the drill, and they needed it unannounced," Jones said.

Agencies involved knew the drill would take place Wednesday, but not the time or place.

Archbold wanted spontaneity, Jones said. "That was their motive and drive," he explained.

Participating agencies documented objectives. Evaluations will be gathered and put into an after-action report for each department to focus on in upcoming weeks.

"We have been working to develop a large-animal disaster plan for our community, and we put that plan into action today," Jones said. "This is not something we respond to every day, but we saw the need to have something in place as a guide should we have an accident with large animals involved."

Goats were the animals involved in the Wednesday mock situation. All "escaped" unscathed.

Jones said cattle are transported to a U.S. 19 facility weekly to be sold. He said a plan must be in place for response if large animals are injured in a wreck.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.

Copyright 2014 - Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Ga.