Province responds to concerns over emergency response to fatal train derailment
The province is weighing in on the emergency response following a train derailment that left two men trapped for hours.
The Hudson Bay Railway train went off the tracks near Ponton, Man. on Sept. 15.
The train's 59-year-old engineer has life changing injuries. The 38-year-old conductor, Kevin Anderson died.
Anderson’s family has been questioning how long it took for help to arrive and why he did not survive, saying he was trapped for close to nine hours,
"Every level of effort was performed by all police, firefighters, paramedics and rescue crews throughout the duration of this incident. All emergency responders did their best under extremely difficult conditions. The province sends its condolences to the family of the deceased and wishes a full recovery to the surviving employee," said a provincial spokesperson in a statement sent to CTV News.
The province said emergency calls came in just after 6 p.m. before RCMP advised breathing apparatus was needed to safely access the victims.
It said police reported the smell of propane. With potential risk of explosion, emergency responders were delayed until it was deemed safe by the HAZMAT crew to begin extrication.
To get the men out, gas powered tools were used, and although there was no detectable propane leaking, tanks had ruptured leaking diesel fuel.
The statement said the men were also in an extremely difficult spot at the bottom of the wreckage, and while the 59-year old man was freed, due to the level of entrapment Anderson could not be.
Around 5:30 p.m., flying a helicopter, Brad and Jackie Gogal said they saw a hand waiving from the wreckage. Upon landing, they found the trapped men.
"I thought what a miracle that these two guys are alive and I just thought they're going to need some good, heavy equipment,” said Jackie Gogal.
RCMP said Anderson died close to 1 a.m..
The Gogals said they flew officers to the site and offered to bring the men pain medication or take other responders there, but were only given blankets, dropped off around 8: 20 p.m., before they left the site.
“I don't know if they weren't allowed or wanted to,” said Brad Gogal. “I have to wonder why they allowed us to stay there for three hours, but not allow their own people.”
The province said a standard operational review of the situation will take place.
Anderson's mom, Debbie Leeper hopes an inquest is called into his death.
"That's a huge window of time for something to happen that would have saved his life and eased the suffering," said Leeper.
The provincial spokesperson also said emergency response in remote locations is extremely difficult and creates special challenges, and that knowing the train had dangerous goods emergency responders followed protocol.
The spokesperson said rescuers worked in a pool of fuel with power running to the locomotives.
A hot zone around the wreckage was set up with only the most critically needed responders, or those with appropriate training and equipment.
10 rescuers including RCMP officers, paramedics and fire fighters worked in that hot zone.
The Medical Examiner’s office told CTV News it won't know if an inquest will be called until it finishes its process, likely sometime in 2019.
Full text of the province's statement: