Disaster in the rail tunnel: mega robbery works out perfectly

Disaster in the rail tunnel: mega robbery works out perfectly

Cries for help from the darkness, shrill screams from the smoke, bleeding people waiting for rescue and care. It was a terrible scene that took place in the depths of the egg mountain railroad tunnel. The very realistic disaster rehearsal on saturday, which involved around 650 emergency personnel and 200 vehicles, is now within reach.

Curious and questioning looks along the village and access roads to the event. People marveled at the array of vehicles whose martinshorns could be heard or who drove past them with blue lights, marveled at the federal police helicopter.

Heavy equipment, on the way because of a scenario that had been prepared for a long time: a train that comes to a halt in a tunnel on fire and smoking, with injured passengers who can’t be seen for all the smoke and are therefore difficult to save.

With the upcoming timetable change in december, deutsche bahn will also put into operation the new section of the erfurt-ebensfeld line of the german unification transport project (VDE) designed for high speeds, with all its tunnels. But without a catastrophe full protection of coarse ausmabes it may not. 22 tunnels lie along the route on the thuringian and bavarian sides – making just as many exercises necessary.

And so they arrived, the fire departments from the counties of lichtenfels, coburg and sonneberg, the BRK from the same counties, the THW (technical relief organization) and police forces. They were strategically distributed on five rescue sites, on assembly and staging areas. Everything under observation also by journalists of the ARD and the suddeutsche zeitung.

90 steps down the stairwell to where the heavy lock gates to the tunnel access are located. In the event of an emergency, firefighting rescue crews will cover this stretch in full gear with breathing apparatus. A physical torture, especially with sacrifices to carry and with smoke. The ascent in another place will even 170 steps
include. It went through locks and finally onto a 3765 meter long tunnel section, where a train had broken down.

The tunnel world is impressive, designed for 300-kilometer-per-hour traffic, with locks and water pipes. But especially weite and ausmab are impressive. Then you hear the screams, they come from the east, so far away that the train is hard to recognize. When the
when the construction crews and manover observers arrive, including local political celebrities, it quickly becomes clear that in the event of an emergency, the scene would be a catastrophe in which one sometimes – disco fog makes it possible – cannot see one’s hand in front of one’s eyes.

101 passengers and among them 27 injured: women with severely bleeding head wounds, men with splinters in the
body stuck. "We are playing with", fabian huppe, chief superintendent of the federal police, says of the police academics’ role as extras.

Behind all this are two men in particular: stefan zapf and marc stielow, one from franconia, the other from thuringia, one a district fire inspector, the other a senior fire officer in the thuringian ministry of the interior. Over a period of four years, the two men developed a rescue concept for train fires in tunnels by 2015. "Sometimes we exchanged ideas twice, sometimes four times a month", says zapf. They also set up working groups to "spread the brainstorming" over many shoulders.

How to use the rails for rescue material and transporting injured people away? How to build patient drop-off areas? How to get forces to the scene smoothly? Zapf’s and stielow’s considerations are of a strategic and tactical nature, take into account the use of respiratory protection, rescue and warning equipment and have formed tunnel base units.

Volunteer firefighters from the districts also rehearsed the emergency – in switzerland. There is an academy for it, with tunnels and real conditions. "That was real, hard work", how zapf remembers. The overall concept also includes the training of multipliers among the firefighters, men and women, who pass on the knowledge they have acquired.

Because one thing seems to be certain: without volunteers, a serious incident cannot be handled. That also seems to be worth something to DB-netz AG. A spokesman for the railroad, who did not wish to be named, explained: "along the new line, eleven fire trucks and breathing apparatus have been paid for by the railroad for fire departments in thuringia and bavaria."

After more than four hours, the fire chief timm vogler gave his manover critique from the control room at the fire station in bad staffelstein: "the training went off without a hitch!"

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