Stalled trains add long minutes to emergency response times in St. Clair Township

Posted at 4:30 AM, Oct 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-13 09:37:39-04

ST. CLAIR TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- During an emergency, the St. Clair Township Fire Department relies on luck.

"You pray and make a split-second decision on which way to go and hope there's no train," Chief Larry Anglin said.

Railroad tracks divide the township neatly in half, and trains owned by CSX Transportation roll through at least once an hour, Anglin said. When they're not rolling, it's even worse -- the corridor is used by multiple railroads, and trains can stall on the tracks for hours at a time as they wait for the go-ahead to continue safely on their routes.

This forces Anglin and his fellow fire fighters to "chase the tracks," driving parallel to them until they finally spot an opening. The time it takes for them to get there is time the people who need their help could be suffering, he said.

"If we were delayed 10 minutes, that could (grow) from a small fire all the way to a large fire," he said.

In a statement, CSX Transportation said it was already working with first responders in the St. Clair area to improve traffic while preserving the safety of railway employees on the multi-company track.

"We apologize for the delays experienced in the St. Clair community," the statement read.