Photo taken of a mock derailment emergency exercise which happened in the fall of 2018.

Largest ever multi-agency emergency exercise taking place at Union Station

First responders and more than 150 volunteers to participate in Metrolinx-led mock disaster simulation taking place overnight at Union Station (Nov 2-3) – as a way to test and improve emergency preparedness.

This is only a drill – but it’s as serious as training can get.

At Metrolinx, safety is at the core of every decision.

The need to protect life and limb impacts every decision, every meeting and every corner of the Ontario transit agency. It’s a constant and critical message to send to employees, communities and customers.

That’s why Metrolinx is hosting – in partnership with Toronto Paramedic Services – a large scale emergency exercise at Union Station. In fact, it’s the largest joint emergency exercise to ever take place at the busiest transit hub in the country.

The exercise will begin late evening on Saturday (November 2) and end in the early morning on Sunday (November 3).

First responders tend to actors during last year’s emergency exercise which was a mock derailment of a GO Train

“Safety is critical to everything we do at Metrolinx, and it is important to regularly test our emergency preparedness to ensure our staff and first-responders are ready in the event of any type of critical incident at Union Station,” said George Bell, Metrolinx vice president of safety and security.

This exercise is not the first Metrolinx has conducted with emergency services partners throughout the region. In September 2018 and April 2017, Metrolinx conducted emergency simulations to test and assess responses to train derailments. All of the key learnings from previous exercises have helped improve emergency responsiveness in worst-case scenarios.

Emergency exercises allow Metrolinx and other agencies to prepare for disaster scenarios. This photo shows actors and volunteers boarding a train that was part of last year’s exercise.

The emergency exercise is also being coordinated with partners at the City of Toronto, Toronto Police Services and Toronto Fire Services.  Although the late-night timing avoids any disruption to transit service, it will include some temporary road and sidewalk closures around Union Station.

This simulation, which has taken months for the partners to plan and organize, will involve 150 actors, professional make-up artists, and staged smoke at platform level.

Volunteers pretend to be injured as first responders practice for a real disaster.
Volunteers had professional make-up done and pretended to be injured so first responders could practice for a real disaster.

During the simulation at Union Station, the public may see volunteers pretending to be seriously injured, many emergency vehicles in the area and first responders acting out the response protocol. It is not an actual emergency and therefore, it is important and the public should avoid calling 911 to ask questions.

It will be a long night for everyone involved in the exercise, but that’s the kind of hard work that shows when it comes to safety.

Story by: Scott Money, Metrolinx media relations advisor, with files from Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager, media relations