Students get a chance to collide with reality - Operation Lifesaver held in New Waterford
by Sharon Montgomery, Cape Breton Post
Glace Bay/New Waterford - The devastation of a train collision was brought to life Tuesday - injuries included. Operation Lifesaver was conducted at Eighth Street. It is a national campaign promoting safety and awareness. Students from Breton Education Centre were brought to the tracks. A train was stopped. The train moved and revealed a scene depicting a motor vehicle/train collision.
A 911 emergency call initiated emergency response from the New Waterford Volunteer Fire Department, Cape Breton Regional Police, EHS and the Emergency Measures Organization.
Officials from Transport Canada in Moncton were also on hand.
A second scenario depicted students on an all-terrain vehicle.
Gerard MacDougall, deputy fire chief of the New Waterford Fire Department, said the exercise spreads awareness on the danger of trains while allowing emergency organizations to practise and improve.
"It is great, this shows how all the organizations can work together."
Debbie Young of Sydney Coal Railway and a member of the Operation Lifesaver committee, said New Waterford is an important area to promote safety, since it has eight railway crossings.
"All emergency people moved in perfectly. It went smoothly and was a success."
After the scenarios, students returned to the school where the aftermath of such a tragedy continued.
Const. Gary Fraser - accompanied by an officer acting as a priest - gave death notifications to parents.
"Then I talked to the kids about choices where they can choose one path and not be around for another day. It is not like a TV show , you can't come back another day."
Brain Stanford of Nova Scotia Power administration, witnessed incidents involving youth and the trains in New Waterford.
"It is amazing the chances kids take. They would be on ATVs, wait until the train was not even 10 feet away, give it gas and get off the tracks."
The power of a train hit home to many New Waterford residents years ago.
In 1980, Bruce Marsh and three friends were walking home from BEC, when they noticed the train - travelling from Mahon Street toward King Street - had stopped.
"That was unusual so we walked down."
They found a female BEC student laying by the train.
"Her foot had been amputated below the ankle. She had lots of bad facial injuries and broken bones."
The students assisted the girl until the ambulance arrived.
"Somehow she got hooked by the train, got sucked under the wheels and was thrown out the other side."
"You don't realize what a big machine a train is and that it cannot stop - they win every time."
Note from Sydney Coal Railway:
Under normal circumstance "no one" is allowed to trespass on railway tracks; however, the scenario(s) for today was in a controlled safety environment with extensive railway & safety personnel on the ground in front/behind the locomotives, 3 personnel on board and in excess of 25 safety & emergency personnel controlling the group(s) of students. The event today was attended by approximately 900 guests, staff & students.
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