Sunday, July 21, 2013

Train accident raises questions

At approximately 2:30 or so Saturday afternoon while running around Oshkosh with a friend, I noticed a train completely stopped and blocking several intersections. After we had a leisurely lunch it was about 4 pm – and the train was still at a standstill. Turns out it was blocking intersections from approximately Washington Avenue all the way north to just a little ways past Murdock – for all intents and purposes pretty much the entire city. The police department told me someone got hit by the train and was hurt, but I didn’t ask for any more specific details than that. The person answering the phone did say the train had just started up and was moving again, but I don’t really know how long it was stopped in total.

I was hoping to find information at the Oshkosh Northwestern’s web site when I got home, but there was nothing. I tried checking throughout the night but still found nothing. About 10 pm I tried calling the Northwestern to see if they were even aware of the accident, only to get a few people’s voice mails. That wasn’t nearly as discouraging as their phone system that needs some serious updating and/or improvements. One woman’s voice mail said she’d be out for something like a week, giving dates of departure and return in June. Well, this is July. Time to update that message. And the city editor’s message said to press ZERO for immediate assistance. When I did that it said I was being transferred to the operator, but then almost immediately told me this was an invalid selection. A few moments later it gave me a recording saying the office was closed but if I needed the newsroom I should select that option. In doing so it then said I was being transferred to the News & Information Center, but that extension just rang and rang. Not even a voice mail picked up. How discouraging!

So this has made me think about two things: (1) It doesn’t appear we can count on the Oshkosh Northwestern on weekends or after hours to provide us with much in the way of news and they need to get their phone system working properly and with current outgoing messages from their personnel; and (2) If there was ever a train derailment or other accident that caused a train to stop, blocking much of the city, how would emergency personnel get from the east side of the tracks to the hospitals on the west side in the event of a medical emergency during such a train stoppage? Whatever plans they have in place I’m sure would take time to effect –and we all know that during an emergency time is not always on our side, nor can it always be spared. Perhaps we need an emergency facility on the east side so those folks aren’t underserved. Just a thought. Finally, I hope whoever was hit by the train yesterday afternoon wasn’t killed or badly injured.