Metro (WMATA)

Report: Metro Needs to Improve Emergency Preparedness

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Metro’s safety watchdog says the transit agency has a lot to work on when it comes to responding quickly to a serious event, according to a new report.

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) report questions how prepared Metro is for another emergency like the fatal L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident in 2015 when a woman was killed when smoke filled a train.

“We opened some emergency medical cabinets at the end of multiple station platforms, and that equipment was expired and/or covered in dirt,” WMSC’s Max Smith said. “And there was no procedure, it turned out, for anyone to keep an eye on that equipment.”

“There are areas where Metro is not meeting its own requirements and commitments,” Smith said.

During the Blue Line derailment outside Arlington National Cemetery four months ago, it took Metro personnel almost an hour to get to riders and then safely get them off the train.

“Training the Metro Transit Police Department personnel on how to safely be on the roadway – on the right of way where there’s tracks, where there’s third rail, where the transit police are the ones who are helping customers evacuate, helping deal with the emergency response,” Smith said.

The report also says Metro’s 911 response plan is inconsistent.

Metro disputes some of the 14 findings and five recommendations of the audit, saying they were disappointed by some of the findings because they have been working to put new safety programs and procedures in place.

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