Images on this page from DC Fire & EMS Department photographer Vito Maggiolo via DCFD.com.
Instead of our normal “Quick takes” to start the day, we are focusing this morning on Monday’s crash on the DC Metro system.
The latest on the investigation: Check out WUSA9.com for the latest stories on the investigation and details about the victims of Monday’s crash. The headline from the Tuesday afternoon NTSB briefing is that the Metro train that collided with a stopped train was in the automatic mode and the train operator put the train into “emergency” in an apparent effort to halt the train. Watch Gary Nurenberg’s 11:00 PM wrap-up.
“Small incident” became big problem: Reporters are asking lots of questions about why this disastrous crash was originally reported, as Chief Dennis Rubin said on Monday, as “a small incident”. So far, what everyone at Metro’s OCC and DC’s OUC knew, and when they knew it, has not been released. What is known is there is a long history of communications issues between Metro and area fire departments. Not all of them have been Metro’s fault. Click here for that story.
First responders to Metro crash heard from, finally: After a day of trying to interview firefighters and EMS workers who responded to Monday’s deadly crash, the crews from Rescue Squad 2 and Engine 26 were allowed to speak shortly after 6:00 PM on Tuesday. Their first hand accounts came at the end of a long late afternoon press briefing. It didn’t give us a lot of time to put together the type of story these highly praised first responders deserve. But it is an important story nonetheless. Click here for the accounts of Tony Carroll, Bill Whetzel, William Kennedy and Nicole Norris. Sgt. Kennedy and Firefighter/Paramedic Norris are seen carrying a patient (facing the camera) in the image below by Vito Maggiolo.
DC Fire & EMS Department command staff tells its story to national fire service and EMS press: Apparently off limits to the local media (not sure why, but we have asked Chief Rubin and his staff for an explanation) are detailed accounts of how the incident was handled by the people in charge of Monday’s response. Check out FirefighterNation.com/ Fire Rescue Magazine, Firehouse.com , FireRescue1.com and JEMS.com.
It isn’t just STATter911.com that noticed the media relations issues at Monday’s collision: While the fire department, with Chief Rubin at the helm, was the lead agency from the initial dispatch on Monday until the last body was removed on Tuesday, STATter911.com has confirmed that it was DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier who gave the orders to clear the press away from areas where the crash site could be seen. This came about an hour and fifteen minutes after the initial dispatch. We are still trying to determine from city officials why this occurred and why PIOs were told not to do interviews during the early stages of the incident. As we reported yesterday, the no interview orders came from Mayor Adrian Fenty’s press office. The Washington Post’s Nikita Stewart has more on critics of the mayor’s efforts to control the message. Also, WTOP’s Hank Silverberg has a frustrated radio reporter’s version of trying to get access and information on Monday. Go to DCRTV.com and scroll down.
Since how messages during times of crisis are delivered has long been a topic of discussion on this blog, let’s look beyond just the city’s efforts. Metro General Manager John Catoe probably has had the toughest questions to answer of any public official. Still, he has been out in front of the cameras on numerous occasions since the news coverage began. A Baltimore Sun reporter has some criticism of Metro’s efforts, but his complaints are web-based. Check it out here and here.
Views from some cameras that were allowed access on Monday: DC Fire & EMS Department PIO Alan Etter shot some close-up video that you can find here.
DC Fire & EMS Department photographer Vito Maggiolo’s early track side images are on DCFD.com.
Retired dispatcher and veteran fire photographer Elliott Goodman also has some gripping close-up images on DCFD.com.
FF/historian gives us some history on the crash site: Rich Schaffer is a DC firefighter with a passion for the department’s and the city’s history. Rich alerts us in our comments section to a very similar train collision in the early 1900s that took place in almost the exact location along the railroad in Fort Totten . What is known as theTerra Cotta wreck killed 53 people. Obviously it wasn’t Metro. It was the B & O Railroad (now the CSX tracks running
on the outside of the Metro line). According to Rich, after the crash, Congress mandated changes to the railroad industry to prevent rail cars from “telescoping” during a train collision. Telescoping is also what happened in Monday’s crash and has been a major concern with the NTSB. Here is a link to read more about the B & O collision.
Also on STATter911 …
- Thank you Dennis Rubin! More than three-years later former DC fire chief confirms STATter911.com’s reporting was accurate. – October 12, 2012
- Judge rules psych eval ordered for former DC fire captain legitimate. Throws out Vanessa Coleman’s lawsuit. Another DC fire whistleblower suit in court. – September 28, 2012
- DC lieutenant’s lawsuit against TV station tossed out by judge under new anti-SLAPP law. Dave thinks this was a case of poor journalism. – January 20, 2012
- Ruling says case of DC EMT fired in 1997 to live on. Court allows suit over failing to reinstate & provide back pay eight-years-ago to continue. – November 3, 2012
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