Wreck builds confidence in emergency personnel

Published 1:54 pm Monday, December 8, 2003

By Staff
Chuck Bodiford Publisher
Sunday a week ago proved to be an eye-opening experience. Never had I covered anything comparable to the train incident that occurred between Atmore and Canoe.
There was so much going on at the accident site it was somewhat hard to digest, but after I quit concentrating on the
negative the positive made itself abundantly apparent.
The train could have been the main focus of my attention. The cars where piled together in a way that resembled an
accordion. Coal covered the ground and dusted the wreckage, and one of the track's rails had snapped completely in half.
Besidea the train itself, there were many people who had gathered at the scene where the accident took place. The train conductor paced nervously with his head supported by a hand as he talked with someone over his cell phone. Witnesses stood around talking about what they had seen and pondered what might have caused the accident. Then there were our city, county, and state personnel who were on site to make sure the scene was secured while CSX investigators traveled to the accident.
This was the positive at a very negative scene. The Waubeek Fire Department had already responded to the accident as had the Atmore Police and Fire departments, the Escambia County Sheriff's Department and an Alabama State Trooper.
These people that we look to for protection and help were on the scene, ready to help were they could. Many times I feel we forget the tremendous responsibilities these people shoulder on a daily basis. Often they unselfishly put their own lives in jeopardy to help those that can't help themselves.
Fortunately, there were no injuries or fires, so securing the scene was relatively easy. Sunday's accident occurred probably under the best
circumstances imaginable, if there are good circumstances for this sort of thing.
The weather was good, the cargo that spilled wasn't toxic and the location was remote, not causing much damage to the area around it. Even though not much was required of the responding agencies for this particular incident, it is nice to know that if things, such as location or cargo, had been different, these people were there ready and waiting to help and correct the problem.
Seeing what could have
happened was quite an
experience and it made me wonder how our local
emergency system prepares for accidents such as this. To answer that question the Advance will carry a series of stories detailing how our emergency personnel train for such incidents. Please look for it in a coming issue and let us know your thoughts.
Chuck Bodiford is an Atmore native and publisher of the Advance. He may be reached by calling 368-2123 or by email at chuck.bodiford@atmoreadvance.com

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