PORTER | About 9 a.m. Saturday, the call went out.
From their radios, firefighters were told there was a head-on collision involving an electrified passenger train and a diesel locomotive off of Mineral Springs Road. The injuries suffered by passengers weren't immediately known.
"This is a drill," the dispatcher said multiple times while providing the information.
The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and the Porter Fire Department collaborated to conduct the "mass casualty exercise."
Hosting such training programs is required by the Federal Railroad Administration, said NICTD Planning and Marketing Director John Parsons.
Before starting the drill, more than a dozen volunteers filled the train cars. They included adults, teens and children, all wearing makeup to simulate wounds.
When emergency personnel arrived, they had to use ladders to enter the trains.
They called out the number of victims in each area and possible injuries suffered.
Jeremy Spargur, chaplain/safety officer at the Porter Fire Department, said communication was a focus, and firefighters worked well together while handling the drill.
The injuries volunteers pretended to have included concussions, broken bones and large gashes.
Officials said the simulation had "victims" in critical condition and a fatality. Those unable to walk were carefully carried out of train cars by the responders.
With the crash occurring in a wooded area, it made the training exercise "a little challenging," Spargur said.
Emergency personnel used ATVs to transport victims to medical vehicles away from the scene because the incident wasn't along a road. A medical helicopter also landed nearby in the event a person needed to be airlifted.
Spargur said he was thankful for the opportunity to participate in the simulation. He said the program was especially helpful for the department's "younger" firefighters.
After the simulation, the Porter Fire Department reviewed how it was handled.
"We feel everything went very well today," Spargur said.
Personnel from multiple area fire departments, including Liberty Township, Chesterton and Washington Township, assisted during the training exercise.