Safety drill conducted ahead of Silver Line opening

FAIRFAX, Va. — “This is a drill,” went a radio call from the Metro Rail Operations Command Center about a train collision that injured passengers.

It was part of a rescue drill that Metro conducted Saturday before the Silver Line opens in July.

During the drill, Fairfax County firefighters had to rescue passengers from a disabled train that was on an aerial or elevated section of the Silver Line track near the new Spring Hill Metro Station in Tysons Corner.

“Most of the new Silver Line, this first phase of it, is on an aerial structure,” which presented a challenge, says Ron Bodmer, director of emergency management for Metro Transit Police.

For the training exercise, a six-car Metro train with passengers collided with track maintenance equipment that had derailed. During the imagined scenario, some of the passengers have disabilities and mobility issues.

The firefighters had to use special carts they pushed along the tracks. The carts are used for people who have mobility issues or who are too injured to make it safety on their own.

Once firefighters reach the victims, they are loaded onto the carts and taken to safety. Every Metro station has at least two of these carts.

Metro is required to conduct an emergency preparedness exercise before new track sections open to the public, Bodmer says. For the Silver Line, the agency has conducted three exercises.

In October 2013, Metro conducted a table-top exercise for a tunnel fire. In June, it conducted an active shooter training exercise at Wiehle Avenue Metro Station in Reston.

Saturday’s exercise at the Spring Hill station was mainly for firefighters.

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