Emergency exercise conducted Thursday

LANDIS, NC (WBTV) - It may have looked like a very serious situation involving firefighters, police, and lots of emergency vehicles, but it was just a very serious exercise.

Rowan County's EMS, along with Cabarrus County, Kannapolis, China Grove, and Landis, and several local volunteer fire departments and the Rowan Rescue Squad conducted a training exercise involving a simulated situation with a train car that has become derailed.

The scenario was that the train struck a church van full of people at a crossing, and that the train was also carrying hazardous chemicals in a tank car.

There were about a dozen "victims" taking part.  Many were covered in fake blood and had carefully applied wounds.

Staying in character, the victims screamed and yelled for help from emergency responders. One woman even tried crawling back towards the tank car while looking for a missing dog.

Another victim continually screamed about what she thought caused the accident.

"Lord, I know he's been drinking and he got behind the wheel," the victim shouted.  "Oh Jesus, I just wanted to go to church to praise Jesus."

The exercise focused on hazardous material response, on site incident management, operational coordination, and operational communication.

The drill was to help responders sharpen their skills and see how to improve, according to officials.

"The way that we respond to and handle these types of events," said Rowan County EMS Director Frank Thomason.  "And also at the same time be able to learn from those tests that we do today to improve the way we respond to these types of events."

The exercise will took place on a railroad spur off Pinnacle Way near Pinnacle Corrugating in Landis.

Norfolk Southern provided the three rail cars used in the exercise.  EnviroSafe, a private company based in North Carolina, constructed the scenario and managed the logistics.