A mock derailment drill involving the Music City Star helped emergency agencies in Wilson County prepare for a possible disaster.
While the Music City Star normally barrels down the track at 45 mph each day, the train came to a halt for a couple hours Thursday in a wooded stretch in Lebanon.
The fake scenario: the train struck an explosive device, derailed and caught fire.
"The exercise today is to test our response to a mass casualty incident that occurs between great crossings that does not have easy access by road," said Cpt. Steve Spencer, with the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency.
The drills are required each year by the Federal Railroad Administration, and on this day, Lebanon police and WEMA were the first on the scene, setting up command centers for communication and then pulling actors pretending to be injured passengers out of the cars.
"The people who were dead had their eyes closed and some had to call, 'Mom, mom.' It felt real for the moment, and we heard the walkie talkies and the counts. It was crazy. It felt so realistic," said student Aletha Grisham, an actor for the day.
Lebanon High School students played the role of the passengers and wore latex makeup, giving a realistic look to all kinds of injuries.
As medics accounted for everyone and moved patient to the hospital, the SWAT officers moved in through the woods, bomb-sniffing dogs searched the train and everything worked like clockwork.
"It is an exercise, because we can take our time. We can evaluate our actions. We can go back and redo some of actions. Where, in a real life event, things would be moving very quickly," Spencer said.
The exercise gave emergency responders a game plan if something like this were to really happen. Since the train also travels through Nashville, emergency responders in Davidson County will conduct a similar drill next year on the Music City Star.
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