WASHINGTON — Metro riders can get just as frustrated at the lack of communication from the transit agency when there is a problem as with the problem itself, so Metro is trying to improve the communication and effectiveness of the station managers and train operators with whom riders interact.
Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik says new employee orientation now includes four hours of training on critical incidents instead of about half an hour.
“We’re really getting our front-line employees involved on how a scene is managed, what you can expect if a station has to close or we’re single tracking — what they need to communicate to our riders, what they need to partner with our first responders who are coming, what a critical incident looks like; we developed a little pocket guide for all of our employees that we’re handing out now,” he says.
Pavlik says every employee is learning about their roles in those situations and “how they can help us.”
Transit police also have been involved in training of more than 6,000 local law enforcement officers and firefighters this year in the wake of major issues that were exposed during the response to the deadly smoke incident in the tunnel outside the L’Enfant Plaza station in January.
Pavlik says D.C. has the largest single group of first responders who have gone through the training, with more than 1,500 trained this year.
“During that training, we focus on anywhere from the layout of the stations to evacuations to safety to communications,” Pavlik says.
The training, which used to be limited to rail yards, included three drills in the actual active system this year. After the drills, firefighters get another hour or two in the tunnel to familiarize themselves with it.