CANNARY ROAD in Carlow town came to a standstill last Thursday evening as members of the emergency services put their skills to the test in a major training exercise.
Exercise Railroad saw emergency services across the region dealing with the fall out of a simulated crash between a stolen tanker and a mini bus at speed through the parapet of a bridge over the Dublin/waterford train line resulting in the derailing of a passenger train carrying almost 100 passengers.
Although an exercise, the principal agencies involved, the gardai, the HSE and the local authorities behaved as though a real train crash had taken place. The large operation saw the involvement of over 500 people including 'casualities' who were rescued by emergency services after the 'crash'.
During the exercise a major emergency was declared in Carlow at 9pm and a media centre was set up in the Seven Oaks Hotel.
Later it emerged that a possible gas leak may have occurred during the simulated collision. To depict the train derailment a number of buses were used as train carriages with passengers inside. Seats and other debris were removed from the carriages by emergency services as they attempted to free the 'casualties', some of whom were deemed to be seriously injured.
Members of the media were allowed on site to see the action first hand although obviously access would be restricted to everyone during a real emergency.
On site Alan O'neill of Carlow Fire Service updated the media on emergency outlining the crash, the suspected leak and the magnitude of the rescue operation. He said the fire service in Carlow were assisted by units from Bagenalstow, Tullow, Hacketstown, Stradbally, Baltinglass, Castlecomer and Athy and those involved in the crash had been divided into categories depending on the severity of their injuries.
While the training operation was largely centred around Cannery Road there were a number of road closures in place in Strawhall to add a sense of reality to the scene.
After the training exercise was over and all casualties has been rescued a press conference was held in the Seven Oaks Hotel where County Manager, Tom Barry, Chief Superintendent Michael Mcgarry and Ann Marie Lanigan of the HSE spoke to the media answering questions.