Friday, February 17, 2006

Emergency Management 296C

While realizing that I do some pretty extensive journaling, there is some that I'd like to share, and obviously some I'd hope you never see. For instance, I wrote 25 pages in a word document during a recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. I'd rather you see the pictures though... You know what they say

I put so much down, but it seems to go no-where...

In the last semster of school, I have been taking a class in Emergency Management as I am trying to become more of a transportation specialist in the field of Geography. The subject area is interesting for sure and I think of the days that I made super highways with my cousin across the Creek behind my Grandma's house in Kentucky. Guess what?, he works in trasnportation too! Is transportation important? You bet... Do folks take it for granted? Sure, quicker than you can say Harley Davidson. Do people really understand "distance" in all its forms? I'm not quite sure myself sometimes...

What I'd like to do is post some of the journal I write when I get home from class, open a beer and spill my mind on the page about what I've learned that evening... It seems like the only way to remember. Some of the things I have learned are quite profound and sometimes strange things happen on the way home too.


Class #6

Tonight’s class was pretty good. Our focus was “transportation as the site” of an emergency.

However, we first had to do more of the student papers #2. Someone did my same paper as I did last week. The gal from Orange County. This guy Zoyd (self described as an agitator) did a neat article review about the planning for transportation in light of terrorism. It was really good and talked about the importance of gaining control back after that type of event. Short Term and long term control - case study, I think, 9/11. In my mind I wonder about the political aftermath that we now face - did it make us stronger, more resolved, more dignified? I don't know... Seems like a bunch of dudes finally came out of the closet after the thing happened and now are super patriotic and going around telling everyone else how much they aren't... Who could've imagined that'd be the outcome?


Tonight's Student presentations were the following: 1.) The Long Island Rail Road Massacre, and 2.) The Baltimore Rail Tunnel Fire.

The long island rail road massacre was in Dec. 1993. This cat Colin Ferguson, a Jamaican immigrant opened fire on the train – 100 rounds… He killed 6 and injured 20. When he went to trial he fired his attorneys and the judge let him defend himself. He cross-examined the people he shot at. He asked questions to witnesses like, “so, where were you on December 7th 1993?” “I was running from your gun!” Mr. Ferguson asks, "Do you see the perpetrator in the room?, “Yes, pointing directly at him, “it was you!” I know it sounds crazy. Our focus however, was the emergency/disaster response. For example, the area was too crowded to get response vehicles in. There was no decent triage for the “green” people (green people are those with no physical symptoms, but mentally traumatized – in shock (susto) maybe. I also learned about ABC – Airway, bleeding – scraped (scabby), veinous (pumping Low BP), arterially (draining High BP) and Consciousness. Usually, “greens” should be separated from the recovery scene so they don’t have to see the trauma over and over again. Our other focus was on the very large circles of people that were affected… Maybe even family who watched TV – having a family member not showing because they can’t get through the transit system and then seeing them on TV – just standing around but maybe with blood splattered on their face. The press monster that must be fed and sometimes doesn't take greater or more solemn responsibility. And of course the trial where the victims were subject to cross examination by the perpetrator! That's crazy...

The Baltimore Rail Tunnel Fire happened during the summer of 2001. Under the streets of Baltimore is a crucial single rail line in an old tunnel. Supplying anything and everything to the northeastarn United States. It was built more than 100 years ago by the B&O RR, and it almost bankrupt them. Now it is run by CSX. 40trains a day with 50 to 100 cars! On July 18th 2001 the train derailed in the tunnel and then a fire started. In the cars were some hardcore (and unpronounceable) chemicals. Hydrochloric acid, and the main culprit: tripropylene. These things burned, along with freight cars containing wood and soy oil, to a high temperature of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The fire also burned fiber-optic cable that was strung in the tunnel, cutting communications to various parts of the world. It shut down the city, they sheltered in place at first and then evacuated, closing the city for 5 days. They really didn’t know what to do. The heat of the fire, also, broke a water main which then flooded the tunnel and therefore stopped the fire. But, the water flooded the city streets and spread the chemicals about. Somehow though, I don’t think there were any deaths. Though official still are not very certain, the tripropylene, apparently seeped up into storm and sewers. At some point a month later, in August, when they thought all was back to normal, an underground explosion happened blowing "300 pound" manhole lids up out of the street.

Of the two, I think the Baltimore Rail tunnel fire was more interesting as it has implications to things that we can do. We can build new Infrastructure in the US – we need to. We are a hoopty nation sometimes I think. Can you say weak link? Trying to make a buck we fuck ourselves. It was also neat to read that this points toward the Yucca Mountain thing. And I don’t think that storage is the bad thing (I really know little about that), but it is getting the stuff there that seems scary. Especially when what happened in Baltimore was that some of the “special canisters” opened due to the high heat. The guy coming on the train and shooting is preventable from a mental health standpoint, but it seems less likely than the rail crash chemical spill thing. I mean, shit, you could live next door to a meth cook! The problems of the rail transit and the single pinch point of goods, makes me think of Monterey Rd and Blanchard project and the UP train through there. But, death is also a trip in the transit tunnel – it would be very claustrophobic.

I don’t know.


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