On Sunday morning, dozens of civilians had to be rescued from the LRT – after an unknown chemical was released.

It was all part of a training exercise for three departments – the Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Fire Rescue and Alberta Health Services.

Each agency had its own list of objectives – but they all had to work together to handle the disaster.

“We have to train together if we’re going to respond together,” Edmonton Police Service Acting Sergeant Steve Maertens-Poole said. “So the goal of this exercise is to work out those bugs, make sure we’re all on the same page so that in the event of a real emergency we’re in good shape to respond to it.”

All three responded to the staged scenario, the release of a chemical agent on the LRT.

The training exercise took place at the Macdonald LRT Yard in northeast Edmonton – and involved about 60 civilians who volunteered to play ‘victims’.

Sandi Misselbrook is one of those volunteers – and she said emergency crews dealing with the incident handled it well.

“They have some steps to follow through with, and they understand that our EMS (Emergency Medical Services) teams are here to help, because I think a lot of that can be lost at the time of the incident.”

“Fire wants to be able to get their decontamination line set up in a certain timeframe, police want to make sure they can control the crowds, and paramedics want to make sure they do a good triage,” Acting Sgt. Maertens-Poole said.

The staged incident involved the release of a home-made concoction of chemicals – which police have actually encountered in past incidents.

“Back in the late 1990’s there was a pipe bomb that had some chemicals attached to it, so that would simulate the chemical release,” Maertens-Poole said.

After the chemical was released on the train, the victims exited the car – where police controlled the crowds before firefighters and EMS arrived.

The victims then had to go through a decontamination shower, before being scrubbed down by fire crews and assessed by AHS staff.

The entire experience struck a number of the volunteers as shocking – in large part the icy-cold water they were required to pass through before taking the next steps in the decontamination process.

“It was a shock, the water was so cold,” Misselbrook said. “You know, I would’ve hesitated to go through, if it had been a real incident – I’d been wondering.”

EPS said it’s the fourth annual training event as part of the City of Edmonton’s emergency preparedness program – specific to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) related events.

For Misselbrook, the first-hand experience she’s had as a victim in a mass attack has given her a sense of comfort, and she knows Edmonton crews can handle a large-scale disaster.

“I think if I’m going to be involved in a disaster I want it to be in Edmonton.”

With files from Amanda Anderson