WELLS — First responders will test their training and skills Saturday morning when they respond to a mock collision between a freight train and a chartered school bus carrying 50 people.

Students from Sanford Regional Technical Center are volunteering as the 50 injured bus passengers.

It won’t be real, so organizers say folks in the vicinity of Spencer Drive Saturday who see large numbers of firetrucks and ambulances responding shouldn’t be alarmed.

The exercise, which involves first responders from all over Maine and some from other New England states, is the brainchild of the York County Emergency Management Agency. It is designed to test how first responders deal with mass casualties.

Longtime emergency management official Robert Bohlmann, acting as public information officer for the event, said the exercise will test responders’ ease with a relatively new system of triaging patients, among other tests of training. The new triage system uses color-coded tags to classify patients for medical care.

Organizers say the event will not effect the Downeaster line or have a major impact on traffic on local roads or I-95.

The three area hospitals ”“ Southern Maine Health Care in Sanford and Biddeford and York Hospital, including the Wells Urgent Care ”“ are taking part.

Blain Cote of the York County Emergency Management Agency said the exercise will focus on decision-making, coordination and integration with other organizations.

Bohlmann agreed. “It will test our emergency-response capability,” he said.

Pan-Am Railways has provided an engine, a box car and a freight car for the event, according to Cote. Along with the first responders expected to be on hand, representatives of the Federal Railroad Administration, safety personnel from several train lines and others will be there.

The event is being organized by the York County EMA, along with the Wells fire, rescue, dispatch and police departments.

Wells Fire Chief Dan Moore said his department will take a lead role in establishing a unified command on the scene, where leaders will gather to make sure the rescue operation goes smoothly. He said it will bring leaders who don’t normally work with each other together in one place to learn how to handle serious situations and learn each other’s style of operation.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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