Last week, a visit to the Public Safety Training Center that’s currently under construction represented another first for me! I happened to be there on the day that three rail car tankers were being moved on site to create one of our outdoor training props—a tanker car derailment. These tank cars had the capability of transporting several different products such as ammonia and chlorine. The cars came from Indiana and were formerly owned by the Canadian National Railroad. We purchased two of them and the third was donated by the Ergman Corporation, a scrap dealership from Lake Bluff, Illinois.
Each of these rail cars is 60 ft. long and weighs 65,000 lbs. empty. They were each lifted by crane from a rail spur in downtown Appleton and transported by about a 70 ft. trailer bed to the PSTC site at the airport. When I was visiting, the enormous Miron Construction crane was lifting one of the cars from the truck transport onto the tracks that had been laid for this prop. It was magnificent to see this thing dangle in midair! What was truly amazing was to see this tanker right next to our FedEx Boeing 727 aircraft prop. The tanker car’s circumference actually was larger than the fuselage of that airplane!
This train derailment prop will be used for many years to come to simulate either a liquid spill or vapor leak, railway incidents that happen far too often. Students will need to identify the chemical, assess the threat level, determine the level of personal protective equipment needed, and mitigate the leak. When the leak is too large to stop, participants will practice techniques to capture the product on the ground and minimize the environmental impact. All too real types of scenarios that we hope to prevent the region’s first responders from facing for the first time as real incidents.
It was a pleasure to witness the creation of this new training prop with several members of our PSTC staff, Jeremy Hansen, Chris Fischer and Jim Austad. I have to tell you their eyes were open wide and they looked a little like three kids in a candy store! You could just see their minds working on all the possible scenarios they plan to simulate to provide outstanding, realistic training experiences for our students and protective service personnel. Trains, planes, and automobiles…one more prop is now in place!