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Dubuque County officials put recent training to test with derailment

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Photo credit: TH Media/Dave Kettering Photo credit: TH Media/Dave Kettering
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DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Kyle Mueller and two of his colleagues went to Colorado last year to learn how to respond to different railroad emergencies.

Last week, they passed that knowledge onto the rest of their department.  Their timing, though a bit delayed, seemed just about right.

"I guess it was fortunate, you could say, that we just talked about. And two weeks ago we had gotten training from the rail on the same stuff. So I guess you could say it was a coincidence, but a good coincidence," he said.

Mueller's training was paid for by a railroad company that sends a lot of cars, and hazardous material through Dubuque County everyday. 

It's partly in response to the number of accidents that happen each year. 

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there have been, on average, a little more that 1,300 derailments every year for the past five years.

That, coupled with the 1.7 million loads of hazardous material that are shipped via rail each year, and you have a potentially dangerous equation.

Mueller said a lot of the training covered what local agencies should do until the railroad companies can get to the scene.

"It's first like a scene size up. What do we have, what's going on, what products are involved. Obviously with this incident it was ethanol, so that's a big one. Finding out what's going on. What's leaking, and where that might be leaking into. And then what may be on fire," he said.

Mueller wasn't working the day the train derailed, but he has been up to the scene since then.  He said he's anxious to talk to those who responded to see how well the training worked.

Andy Cummings, media relations representative with Canadian Pacific, said the company is "very pleased" with Dubuque County's response to the derailment.

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