BOISE – Emergency crews in Gem and Boise counties were busy on Wednesday, training for a real emergency. The scenario was a train derailment.
While there were no cars that came off the tracks, there were several people inside the train cars that were playing the role of injured passengers. The goal was to see how emergency crews responded to the situation.
For the emergency responders and employees of the Thunder Mountain Line, this was valuable training.
Mitch Harris, the Director of Safety Training for Thunder Mountain Line, says the chances of something like this actually happening is very slim.
"If we're prepared, we're prepared. If we're not, we're not. And so we just want to be ready for things like this," said Harris.
That explanation sounds over simplified, but to these crews it's not. You are either prepared or you're not, and there is very little middle ground.
"You cannot take any chances,” said Harris. “You can leave no stones unturned. If there's a possibility of a safety issue, you want to address it and be prepared for it. So that's what we're doing.”
Every year, thousands of people ride the Thunder Mountain Line. On any given train, there can be upwards of 300 passengers.
"So this allows us to kind of rehearse, work out some of the logistical bugs prior to a real incident happening," said Boise County Sheriff Ben Roeber.
Roeber says some of those bugs come from working with other agencies.
This training happened on the shared Boise and Gem County line, providing different agencies the opportunity to figure out how to communicate and work with each other.
"We're being proactive and getting our people the best training that we can get them, instead of just relying on waiting for that next call to come in,” said Roeber. “We're being proactive in getting our people experience.”
Other agencies involved in the training were the Bureau of Homeland Security, Central District Health, ambulance services and Idaho State Communication.
Life Flight and Air St. Luke's were supposed to fly in today as well, but canceled because of the weather.