Police, EMS undergo training to deal with accidents involving trains - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Police, EMS undergo training to deal with accidents involving trains

Louisville, KY -

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - They travel at speeds of nearly 55-miles-per-hour and can take a full mile to come to a stop.

The dangers of trains are becoming a major focus, and law enforcement wants to minimize the number of accidents caused by people trespassing on train tracks.

Car-versus-train crashes seem to always result with the car twisted into pieces with debris scattered everywhere.

"A mile-long freight train will weigh approximately 12 million pounds," said Wayne Gentry with Operation Lifesaver Kentucky.

When all of that heavy metal slams into a car, massive destruction occurs. Since the average emergency responder doesn't typically deal with a lot of these types of crashes, it's important to prepare ahead of time.

"It's a unique situation because they're not used to responding to something that's 16-feet-tall and 70-feet-long - which that's one locomotive - so they are much larger than they are used to dealing with," said Rick Deichmann, a train safety instructor.

Each year, different officers from multiple agencies are trained on how to tackle situations involving a train.

"You could have a mile-long train so you've got crossings blocked and that restricts law enforcement's response and you could have people injured on either side of the crossing," Deichmann said.

A collision with a car is the most common crisis. Participants in the training learn how to respond to other training scenarios including haz-mat situations and train derailments. Officers will put Wednesday's training to use in a mock crash Thursday.

The good news is that car versus train crashes are down dramatically over just the past couple of years, but officials say there is still work to be done. That's because there is a growing trend of people standing right near and even on railroad tracks. That's considered trespassing and is illegal; however, there's a growing trend of people doing just that.

"Without you realizing it, it could sneak up on you; they have roller bearings now and they are not as noisy as they used to be and if the wind is blowing and there's other ambient noise around, they could be on top of you and you wouldn't even know it," Gentry said.

For those reasons, safety groups are pushing for more education about how dangerous tracks can be.

Officials want to stress they're not backing down from getting the word out about the dangers of driving on tracks, and stress the three L's:  Look, Listen, Live.

In fact, you're 30-to-40 times more likely to die in a car-versus-train crash.

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