April 1, 2015 Edition

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Amtrak Emergency Manager Charles Cox (standing) presents safety measures and hazards responders need to be prepared for in the case of a train derailment during a special training held Monday at the Lawrence County Meeting Room.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

Amtrak training held
for local responders

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Amtrak, in conjunction with Lawrence County Office of Emergency Management, offered a specialized training for area emergency response agencies Monday.

The training provided ways to prepare for an Amtrak derailment and how to safely handle rescue and recovery operations.

Charles Cox, Amtrak emergency manager for Arkansas and surrounding states, provided the training, which had 60 in attendance who represented more than 20 emergency response agencies, as well as other organizations.

Walnut Ridge Police Chief Chris Kirksey said the training was very informative and taught the appropriate way to remove passengers while avoiding hazards. "If a derailment were to occur, I believe we are much more prepared to handle it thanks to this training," he said.

Black Rock Safety Officer Bryan Smith said Cox covered many scenarios he had never considered, such as loose electrical lines and how a train can move on its own if the engine fails.

"There are a lot of scenarios that you need to be prepared for," Smith said. He also added that it's important for all the departments to come together to get prepared for emergency situations.

Sheriff Jeff Yates echoed those sentiments saying anytime the departments can get together, it will benefit them in the future. "There are a lot in the county that I still haven't met," he said. "It helps us to know who is with each department and what resources they have."

Yates has already started to develop am emergency operations plan in case of an incident. He plans to coordinate with OEM and other agencies. He said the next derailment could very well be a passenger train and the county has to have a plan ready.

The OEM extends its gratitude to everyone for attending and organizing this training. It also wishes to thank the following for sponsoring the lunch served at the event: Walmart, Sonic, McDonald's and Pizza Hut, all in Walnut Ridge, Pizza Den in Hoxie, and Walmart, Wendy's, Larry's Pizza and Burger King in Pocahontas.

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