Tram Accident - Rescue Tactics

Rescue Tactics

In tram accidents, overhead lines and various electrical devices in a tram can create a risk in firefighting and rescue operations (see overhead lines in picture 12). Amont the first missions in an accidents is prevention of further accidents, additional damages and injuries (see an accident scene in gallery picture 1). The emergency dispatch centers may have strategies and emergency response guides prepared for various kinds of tram accidents. The response guides can contain information on e.g. what emergency response units (police, ambulance, fire apparatus, investigation units etc.) are sent to the accident scene in various kind of accidents (fire, derailment, collision, pedestrian hit by a tram etc.). Also hospitals can be alerted in major accidents.

At the accident scene, a ground connection is used to prevent electric shocks from overhead lines (see an emergency ground connection in gallery picture 2). The accident scene is isolated, and police or fire brigade controls the traffic. The accident scene is surveyed, and in the case of several injured persons, a triage process or other recognition of patients’ states is done. The most critically injured patients get more, faster, and better quality attention and treatment. In the case of a patient underneath a tram, lifting bags or hydraulic jacks brought by fire brigades can be used to elevate the tram and release the patient (see lifting points in picture 10) and a tow car lifting a tram in gallery picture 3). A crane can be used to lift a tram, too, or an overturned tram. If a patient is trapped inside crushed structures, various kinds of extrication tools, like hydraulic spreaders, rams, cutters, and circular saws can be used. In some cases, it is also possible to drive the tram backwards, but in most cases this would only cause more injuries to the victim. While cutting, lifting or turning an overturned tram or vehicle, structures often have to be stabilized to avoid the movement of the vehicle, to prevent the risk of movements of suspension, and to avoid falling of lifted vehicles on the patient or the members of the rescue crew.

Cranes, tow trucks, hydraulic jacks and rollers can be used to move a derailed tram back to its rails (see a roller and winching in gallery picture 4 and gallery picture 5).

After the patients have been treated and transported, a police investigation on the scene continues. The victims and witnesses can be interviewed on the scene, or later. After investigation the vehicles which collided are allowed to be moved from the scene. In severe accidents, special traffic or accident investigation boards may analyze the accident and its consequences, and give recommendations to improve safety in traffic. After the accident, the accident scene shoulde be cleaned. The tram, the tracks and the overhead lines may need repair (see gallery picture 6, gallery picture 7, and gallery picture 8).

In Helsinki, Finland, the emergency dispatch center automatically sends a special tram rescue unit in case of tram fires and serious tram accidents. The unit is able to operate also in flood and snow. Tram rescue units are typically built for various kind of rescue operations, to move automobiles parked on tram tracks, and to tow and derail trams (see a German tram towtruck in picture 13).

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