Forest Glen Metro emergency response drill is the third this year

WASHINGTON — A full-scale emergency response training exercise was held Sunday at the Forest Glen Metro Station in Montgomery County, Maryland, the third training exercise since the deadly smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza in D.C. on Jan. 12, 2015.

“Our big objective today is command and control. How quickly can we evacuate, how safely can we evacuate,” says Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik.

The drills Sunday included two separate training exercises. Pavlik says the first scenario involved a suspicious package on a Metro bus. The second scenario, one requiring an evacuation, involved smoke in the tunnel inside a Metro station.

Such drills are now held every quarter — instead of every year — to help avert another tragedy like what happened at L’Enfant Plaza, when a woman died after thick smoke filled Metro trains in L’Enfant Plaza.

One of the major criticisms from the deadly smoke incident was that there were communication problems during the emergency. Pavlik says communication in these types of incidents is crucial, especially among the different agencies.

Metro’s new General Manager Paul Wiedefeld attended the drill. He says it’s very important for him to actually be there and see things firsthand. He says it’s important for everyone to meet before an emergency happens rather than while or after it unfolds.

“We have to know their protocols, they have to know ours,” Wiedefeld says. He says the training exercises establish an incident command center and clarifies who is in control.

Pavlik says the first drill took place during the spring in Prince George’s County, Maryland; the second drill was held in D.C. during the summer.

Pavlik says the next drill will be done in early 2016 and will most likely be done in Fairfax, Virginia.

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