A train is travelling through a nasty thunderstorm. It’s an express train; it’s late at night, and it’s travelling fast. The bad weather unnerves the driver. He’s had several close calls already. He squints through the small window in the cab, at the curve ahead ahead. He’s travelling too fast, he can’t recover. The brakes scream on – but it’s too late. The train derails, slides off the tracks, and crumples instantly into a heap of twisted metal, slammed up against the embankment.
Rescue workers make their way to the accident site. The paramedics arrive first, then the firefighters and the police officers. It’s major news – the TV news crews all arrive quickly. Newspapers. Bloggers.
An odd thing starts to happen. Instead of helping the survivors and securing the scene, the rescue crew start fighting amongst themselves. How did the crash happen? Was it was the driver’s fault? What was the main cause of the accident?
By now, there’s a decent sized crowd looking on. But it gets worse – no one can agree. The paramedics, the firefighters, and the police – not one of them seems to be in charge of the recovery. They’re still bickering about what happened. Worse still, some of the emergency services have decided to tweet their frustrations.
In the few remaining carriages the survivors are wet, sick, and cold. It’s still raining, and they’re injured – some severely. Their rescuers keep arguing about where to start.
The paramedics are convinced that it’s important to shift the blame to the driver before they start the rescue. But the driver has suffered major trauma – he’s incoherent and struggling to remember what happened. If they could reach him, they might see that while he will survive, it’s obvious that he will never be able to drive trains again.
A few of the quieter rescuers are huddled together – they want to assess the damage and focus on recovery. They’ve trained for this. They don’t want to run into the wreck and pull out whoever they see just in case they get hurt themselves. But they’re worried if they don’t cooperate, there’s a growing risk it will get much worse.
The journalists start asking questions – are the rescue crews having trouble cooperating because they’re all from different services? Some of the senior officers have been around for a long time – is this why they’re not cooperating? By the time the survivors are pulled out, it’s clear that some will not make it.
It’s morning now, the day after the crash. There’s no shortage of work to do. Some of the train carriages are salvageable, but it will require a massive recovery effort.
The whole community will need to pitch in to clean this up.