PHOENIX, AZ — Forty volunteers evacuated a smoking light rail vehicle as part of an emergency drill conducted Sunday, May 22, on the Tempe Town Lake bridge. METRO, cooperating closely with the City of Tempe, organized this drill to assist in creating increased preparedness by METRO staff and local emergency responders to this and other emergencies like it.
“Drills, like the one on Sunday, provide the opportunity for local police and fire to become better acquainted with our relatively new system,” said METRO CEO Steve Banta. “The result is a better and more coordinated response that, ultimately, benefits the customer.”
The drill involved a train malfunction that caused the trailing car to begin to smoke (using a smoke machine each had various roles to play including self-evacuating using the manual door release, calling 911, feigning an injured leg and burning eyes and obeying operator instruction. Tempe Police and Fire came on scene and set up incident command within minutes. Fire ensured complete evacuation and triaged any ailing passengers; Police interviewed witnesses.
The event was fully responded to in less than one hour and did not affect regular service.
“The safety of Tempe residents and our transit system passengers is a priority for the Tempe Police and Fire departments,” said Tempe Police Sergeant Mike Powell. “We participate in these types of drills on a regular basis in order to identify areas of improvement while ensuring that the proper internal communication systems are working.”
Emergency drills are executed twice a year by METRO in partnership with the local jurisdictions. This event was the most visible and intricate in METRO history; the others have either taken place in the maintenance yard, off revenue service, or were table-top exercises.
METRO is responsible for the development and operation of the region’s high-capacity transit system. The first 20-mile light rail line opened December 2008 and served 12.6 million riders in 2010, exceeding the prior year by 11 percent. METRO serves an average of 40,000 riders each weekday while also planning for six extensions that will create a 57-mile system by 2031. For more information, visit www.metrolightrail.org.
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