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Pearsall city officials will work alongside Frio County crews, Pearsall ISD, Frio Regional Hospital and emergency responders in hosting a mock train derailment Thursday morning, April 28.
The project is designed as a learning tool for those who would be summoned into action in the event of an actual crisis.
The event will be simulated at the railroad grade crossings at Frio and Medina streets south of downtown Pearsall and is designed not as a spectator event but as a drill for emergency responders. The exercise has been organized to provide local agencies, emergency and non-emergency, with “real lessons on how to prepare for natural disasters, whatever their nature may be,” according to the city in a prepared statement.
“This is a great opportunity for the school, hospital, county, city, AEP, Union Pacific, TxDOT and other agencies to work together,” Mayor Ben Briscoe said. “These drills are valuable for bringing awareness to all the agencies involved and what capabilities and services are available to us should something like this happen. Heaven forbid it does, but there is a very real benefit to all associated with keeping our community safe by practicing these types of events.”
The drill, which will not involve an actual train or wrecked vehicle, will require officials to cope with the consequences of a simulated train derailment and develop a plan to work together.
“An emergency management drill is important to our county because it gives our first responders training dealing with a crisis such as a train wreck, flooding or a tornado,” Frio County Sheriff Mike Morse said. “The opportunity of all our agencies to work and communicate with each other will enhance our preparedness to respond to a situation, should one arise.”
According to Briscoe, officials from Union Pacific and AEP will be on hand to help stage the event. A goal of the exercise will be the successful cooperation between agencies to remedy the situation quickly and minimize any threats to the public in a timely manner.
“Communication will be the most critical aspect of the drill,” Pearsall Police Chief Humberto Torralba II said. “Being that this is not something we respond to every day, it will better prepare us to develop a disaster plan for our community. The scenario will further help us determine what to expect and what else we need to do during an emergency like this.”
Officials will be on hand to ‘grade’ the performance and will provide feedback for an after-action report to analyze the exercise.
“Of the many values received in an event like this, a key one will be agencies learning to work together and being made aware of all the different assets available to the city in an emergency like this,” the mayor said. “Again in this drill, there will be no wrecked autos or trains; it will simply be working through the event as if there was one.”