Cornwall emergency responders take part in train derailment exercise

Connor McLaughlin, Special to Seaway News
Cornwall emergency responders take part in train derailment exercise
Members of the Cornwall Fire Services and CN Rail taking part in Wednesday's exercise (Connor McLaughlin/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – First emergency train derailment exercise in close to ten years. 

A unique training exercise was held Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, where our Cornwall Fire Station (CFS), got the chance to practice with the Canadian National Railway’s (CN) Dangerous Goods Team, for what to do during a train derailment. They are holding this type of training for the first time in close to ten years. 

In a conversation with Seaway News, Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Stephenson explained the situation regarding this rare and important training exercise. 

 “This exercise today, is an opportunity to say, we are going through a number of scenarios, essentially a mock derailment in the city, and how do we handle that. Right from arriving on scene, identifying the goods that are there, evacuation distances that are necessary depending on what the goods are, and then walking through that process,” said Stephenson. 

He commented that Transport Canada partnered with TRIOX and CN, to give fire departments the chance to practice for a train derailment, selecting CFS as one of the five stations given this opportunity per year. 

Around 20 of CFS staff members got to participate in this training exercise, including the platoon that was on staff Wednesday, the senior staff, and dispatchers.  

“For us, it is not something that is annually done,” said Stephenson. “It is something we would like to have annually done, but we are just very appreciative of CN, Transport Canada, TRIOX, and all of the agencies involved today,”  

Stephenson talked about how this mock derailment exercise has been in the works for months and is designed to give emergency services a chance to gain experience, in case of an actual train derailment. 

“We don’t have access to CN’s everyday operations, so to have them to come to us and say, we’re willing to give you our expertise and plan this, we’re like, we are in,” he said. 

This event is also graded and reported to back to CN, for them to communicate and establish better connections with emergency responders, making the railways safer in case of disaster. 

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