THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION

CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995

INQUEST DAY FOURTEEN- Friday 26th January, 1996

NOT A DISASTER EMERGENCY SERVICES SAY

 

Four gentlemen from the Police, Fire, Ambulance and TTC Security followed the showing of a video of the accident site. There was no Date or Time stamping on the video so it was difficult to tell how the progress of these agencies developed.

 

Sgt. Lamch of 52 Division, Chief Bailey who has had 32 years of service with the Fire Department, Mr. Solomon from the Ambulance Service and Mr. Walker, Manager of TTC Corporate Security described how their various agencies responded to the accident. There was much praise around the court room for everyone's efforts.

 

The general summary of this evidence is that there is a communication problem in Metro and it needs to be fixed. With policemen talking about people being VeeEssEh (VSA) instead of being dead, it's not surprising that there is a communication problem. (VSA means Vital Signs Absent).

 

Although the Fire and Ambulance representatives appeared to know of the Russell Hill Emergency entrance/exit, the police don't seem to be too aware of what is not under their noses. There is a boundary dispute within the police service which everyone tried to hide but there is an obvious territorial war in the police force.

 

An interesting part of the policeman's testimony centred on the types of call they (the police) get. One of the things that was uppermost in this man's mind was that he had to have the correct amount of adrenaline rush before he went to a call and if it wasn't described properly (our first call to the other agencies seemed to imply a standard Passenger Assistance Alarm), then the rush wasn't there. He seemed to intimate that if we had described the accident site in more detail and accurately, the emergency services would have been in "fine fettle" to deal with what faced them.

 

Sgt Lamch admitted the police could park better. He also admitted that the police are scared when they enter our system due to the uncertainty of the tunnels and proposed that we install maps of the tunnel at the end platforms. He also was unaware of our Blue Light phone system

 

Chief Bailey was an accountant type. He knew all about the numbers of pumpers and staff on site and lengths of wire and other numerical stuff. Although he knew our fans were operating, he did not know the dampers were closed. Chief Bailey is another example of a language expert, he met persons as he headed towards run 34 from Dupont. Not passengers, not grimy people struggling to get out of this place, not fellow human beings in a difficult situation but "persons". More Yech !!!!!! Chief Bailey had never seen a situation quite like the collision of Runs 34 and 35.

 

Mr. Walker, our "on loan" policeman, was such a drawing card at the end of the day that counsel had already left the courtroom they had so little interest in what he had to say. Brian Leck valiantly asked a couple of questions to make him feel at home. He recommended we do more simulations.

 

In the opinion of all the agencies, we did not have a disaster.

 

COMMENTS

 

1) The solution to the communications problem is something that isn't going to be solved by spending nearly 20 million dollars on fancy electronics in the subway. It is going to improve when we stop trying to reinvent the English Language every time we speak. A Service Delivery Branch is the limb of a tree that conducts water and nutrients to twigs and leaves; it does not run buses that pick up passengers. The mentality that creates this obfuscation obviously has nothing better to do and needs to be fixed. This will require a concerted effort on everyone's part to restore some sanity to the lexicography that allows people to believe that IPHC is a safety system.

 

2) During my 30 years at the TTC, I have seen much evidence of the willingness of the TTC to share information with practically anyone who wants it. It was this willingness to share, which some greedy commissioner thought we could charge for, that created the Toronto Transit Consultants in the first place. I know we have spent a considerable time passing information to the various agencies within Metro and it is obvious from the evidence we heard today that these other agencies are as careful at husbanding this data as we are !!!!

 

3) This inquest has been used as yet another forum for self congratulatory and mutual back slapping by the agencies of Metropolitan Toronto. As a resident of the downtown core observing the law being broken on a continuing basis, I think the Emergency Services (with the correct amount of adrenaline rush) are nothing but a bunch of cowboys who have no care for the world around them. It takes a second to make sure that there is enough room for a streetcar to pass but I have seen plenty of examples of TTC service being held up for a considerable time by people who ought to know better. The use of sirens at all hours of the day and night is quite uncalled for but presumably helps to build up the adrenaline.

 

4) Mr. Punter, with some assistance from Mr. Solomon (Ambulance Services), has a hate on for the centre stanchions in subway car aisles. It is their humble opinion that the infinitesimally tiny amount of time that the stanchion is in the way of an emergency service is reason enough to remove them from the enormous amount of time they are of value to our passengers. Yet another example of the vast majority (in this case passengers) having to give way to minuscule minorities (the non-walking sick). Yet another example of do- gooders trying to set up the world for their peculiar sense of the correct.

 

5) Chief Bailey was yet another voice describing the failure of Transit Control to manage incoming calls effectively. It really isn't going to help us at all to install fancy communications devices if all they do is deter use.

 

6) Mr. Walker allowed that the Union should be represented on the Emergency Committee (which one - there are so many !!!).

 

7) From today's testimony, it is not bits of leaky antenna, emergency exits on various maps, people walking up and down the subway to get the feel of it, tapes with precise times, videos with no times, inter- agency rivalry, intra-agency rivalry, fancy command posts, senior management making appearances etc.; it is a rework of the communication philosophy of the Metro Government. This is something that I hope will be given considerable airing during the next few months as we debate how the Greater Toronto Area is to govern itself.

 

We get a break until 10 a.m. Wednesday 31st January. I do hope my readers don't go into total withdrawal. Perhaps these gentle readers might like to offer some feedback on these notes so far. Any feedback will be answered and is appreciated.

 

Dave Irwin - 26th January 1996

 



 

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