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Emergency crews run drill with Milwaukee Streetcar

Posted: 3:51 PM, Aug 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-09 20:51:56Z

The Milwaukee Streetcar is slated to begin operations in November. While preparations are still being made to help it run, emergency crews were on hand Thursday for when it unexpectedly stops. 

"We want to be ready to go in case something happens," Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski, Milwaukee Fire Department said. "This is our final exercise to really, really nail down our command structures, communication structures and our boots on the ground level where the technological aspect of the Milwaukee Streetcar are concerned."

The previous drill involved a mock explosive device going off near the Streetcar. It was a valuable exercise but today's, was a scenario which would be much more common. It involved a car, the streetcar and a pedestrian pinned under the streetcar and passengers in both the vehicle and The Hop. 

"We're in the actual environment we're going to be in for game day," Lipski said. "That's so critically important, especially where we have all these moving parts."

Crews from all over the area were on scene from the drill. They sprung into action to help the multiple victims in this incident. Actors on The Hop were loud and boisterous, some with injuries and others, playing the role of a frantic friend. There was even one man, given the task of yelling in the first responders faces that he was going to sue. All of these distractions are realistic and were meant to test the crews. 

"We always try to do the best we can to make it as realistic as possible," Lt. Nick Poliak said. "We're not damaging the things we have in place right now but we want to give all the responders the opportunity to treat it as realistically as possible. There is some make believe that has to happen but we had actors who did a real good job and we were able to treat their injuries in a mock way. It's pretty on par for sure."

Actors complained of everything from asthma to broken bones. The dozen or so victims were all taken care of in a calm but efficient manner. 

"They did a really good job of maintaining composure and treating all the victims," Bret Duchateau, a participant in the drill said. "It was interesting to see the united response, not only from Milwaukee Fire but also Wauwatosa is here as well. From my perspective, I think they did a wonderful job."

There were several agencies from outside of Milwaukee even though The Hop only runs in the heart of the city. It gave everyone an opportunity to do the drill because they never know if they'll get involved. 

"They have to be prepared too," Lipski said. "This is helping us practice that relationship with our shared service partners but it's also helping us for the reality that they may be filling in in our fire stations when this happens. They just need to know this stuff."

But this drill is new for everyone involved. None of the firefighters were around for the last streetcar which ceased operations in 1958. 

"The thing to take away from this is it's giving us an opportunity to do these trainings on something we've never done before," Poliak said. "That's why we do these drills. To better prepare ourselves so the next time we see it in real life, whether it's two in the morning or two in the afternoon, we have something to recall and provide a better operation."

But with the opening of The Hop fast approaching, public safety is of the utmost importance and emergency crews know that. 

"They should feel exceedingly comfortable," Lipski said. "After all this and we have a lot of effort from a lot of different entities, I'd say we're good to go."