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Philly first responders, search dogs honored for Amtrak wreck rescues [photos]

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The first responders to came to the rescue at this week’s Amtrak crash got to tell their stories at Philadelphia City Hall today. 

Chief Greg Murphy of the Fire Department’s special operations unit says from the time the first call came in, he knew things were terrible.

“What I was hearing when I picked up the phone was controlled chaos,” he said.  “What I realized is there was a humungous scene a disasterous scene and we needed the right resources on the scene.”

Among the first on the scene was Lt. Joseph Farrell of Ladder Company 15.  He says police who weren’t wearing protective clothing just dove in to help extricate the injured passengers.

“The actual scale is a little hard to understand if you look at the TV pictures,” Farrell said. “The scale was almost overwhelming.  There was zero lighting and the concern about active railways and live energized lines was one of our primary concerns.”

Police officer Daniel Cosme says they joined with firefighters doing a triage on the scene to expedite the aid where necessary.

“We looked at who needed the attention the most and we gathered everybody together and got them out of there,” he said.

Within hours, dog teams were searching to wreckage for trapped passengers.  Today they even showed off Wyatt, one of the search dogs.

Police Cpt. Mark Bergman says first responders train for the worst and that night the training paid off.

“It was just impressive the way the police the fire, the EMS were all working together carrying the injured out to the triage area where we had rescue truck and where we had wagons lined up along Sedley street, where it was controlled chaos and it went just the way that we trained,” he said.

City officials are going to do an “after action review” to see if there were any problems that need to be addressed.

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