D.C.’s subway authority ran an annual crisis drill Sunday morning to practice police and fire response to an explosion on a train traveling toward Foggy Bottom.
A flash-bang grenade and volunteers with mock wounds were used to make the drill as realistic as possible. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority employees at both stations were unaware of the drill so officials could gauge their preparedness. Officials said the main goal of the drill was to test coordination between Washington, Maryland and Virginia first-responders.
“An exercise such as today’s provides the opportunity for firefighters to practice their skills as they relate to Metro’s trains,” Metro’s Interim General Manager Dan Tangherlini said in a press release.
Chuck Novick, Metro’s emergency management coordinator, acted out the scenario of an explosion on an eight-car train.
“We are . in the worst possible situation,” Novick said. “We’re underwater; we’re far away from either station.”
Novick said a number of difficulties that occurred during the drill were helpful in identifying problems that could occur in a real emergency.
The mock explosion occurred on a train en route to the Foggy Bottom Metro Station at about 8:20 a.m. Officials coordinated a rescue train to go down into the tunnel and transport victims to the triage unit set up at Foggy Bottom. Victims were not evacuated from the tunnel until a little before noon.
D.C. Fire Lieutenant C.S. Callaway said that large amount of firefighters and police officers were deployed to the Foggy Bottom Metro and Rosslyn Metro stations, as well as the Thompson Boathouse – a location on the Potomac near the Watergate. Callaway added that one of the volunteers had an asthma attack while the drill was occurring.
“We have an emergency patient in the drill there, so as the train comes in we’re . treating her,” Callaway said.
Three officials from GW’s Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management also participated in the drill.
Students traveling on the Metro said they were not alarmed by many emergency vehicles parked in front of Foggy Bottom Metro.
“There were four trucks from different municipalities and they all seemed to be doing nothing,” said junior Stephanie Gardner. “No one looked worried.”
Sophomore Brand Kroeger said he was mainly concerned he missed his train because of all of the firefighters walking slowly down the escalator. He said he felt safer knowing drills like this occur.
Kroeger said, “I think it’s great that they’re going through the motions.”