MURRAY — Several explosions rang out along a major hub at UTA’s FrontRunner and TRAX station in Murray on Thursday.
It wasn’t real, but officials played it out as if it were a verified terrorist attack — even labeling it a mass-casualty and injury bombing. The in-depth exercise, called “Train of Events,” is meant to help emergency personnel train and evaluate response plans, policies and procedures during a multiple-explosion event on a commuter rail during high occupancy.
The scenario, which began around 10 a.m. and lasted for several hours, was so in-depth that evaluators from outside Utah came to see how well crews performed.
The “attack” was set up in a two-part series: one at the TRAX line, when the bomb went off, and the second across the street at Intermountain Medical Center for treatment.
“These are truly effective,” said Pat Killion, deputy fire marshal for Murray. “They are very expensive. You can get as creative as you want.”
Thirteen departments converged on the scene, jumping into the middle of the hands-on training. They included the FBI, the Red Cross, Utah Transit Authority, West Valley Bomb Squad and the Murray City Fire Department.
But what made the drill so effective was the army of victims — 100 volunteers who played the roles of injured or dead commuters, as well as family members. Some “victims” even carried fake explosives.
“I’m here to figure out what it’s like if an accident were to happen,” said Janice Nunez, who played one of the injured victims.
While the event was set up to manage officials and response agencies, the volunteers were also able to learn what to do in the event of an emergency.
“It can happen to you when we hope it doesn’t,” Killion said. “These are preparations on our part.”