Railroad and Westport Area Officials Discuss Slow Response to Stranded Train

A train carrying passengers recently became temporarily disabled in Westport, Connecticut. The incident wouldn’t have been that bad if the heat hadn’t reached100-plus degrees and the train hadn’t come to rest on an inaccessible stretch of track. The circumstances led to a lengthy emergency response from area officials. Apparently, a miscommunication between 911 dispatchers and Metro-North officials delayed the response by Westport EMS.

This was of particular concern to area residents, as well as emergency responders, since the high heat in the train cars could have had serious consequences for passengers, including three pregnant women.

Immediate action was called for, and in a recent gathering of Westport personnel with Metro officials, discussions revealed emergency response improvements for the future.

“Several areas were identified where we believe emergency operations can be improved upon, and all agencies are working cooperatively to reach this goal,” said Andrew J. Kingsbury, chief of the Westport Fire Department and the town’s emergency management director, according to an http://norwalk.patch.com report of the incident.

The meeting also resulted in the identification of several areas where officials believed communication with Metro-North could be improved.

The meeting addressed problems with emergency communications between 911 dispatchers and Metro-North officials, as well as the lack of communication between train conductors and passengers. During the incident, “passengers complained that they received only one or two updates from the conductors while waiting for about 50 minutes for the train to get moving again. As the passengers waited in the 105-plus degree heat, and began to feel the effects of heat exhaustion, some panicked and dialed 911.”

The cause of the train disablement, according to the MTA, was overhead wires sagging in the high heat, which then got tangled in the apparatus that conducts electricity from the wires to the train.

For more information about how Westport officials seek to improve their emergency response efforts, visit: http://norwalk.patch.com/articles/railroad-area-officials-discuss-slow-response-to-stranded-train