Students play roles in mock train wreck

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    Instead of sleeping late for one more day of Fall Break, five TCU journalism students spent Sunday morning at a simulated train wreck.Three students played the roles of victims and two students simulated reporters at the scene of the mock train collision, hosted by the Trinity Railway Express, said Amiso George, associate professor of journalism.

    George said she thought a full dress rehearsal of a crisis situation would be relevant for students in her public relations principles and international and intercultural communication classes.

    “I wanted to extend their learning outside the classroom,” George said. “They got to see the amount of work and cooperation and coordination required to get through an event like that.”

    The simulation involved the collision of a passenger train with a freight train tank car carrying hazardous chemicals. The purpose of the drill was to prepare local first responders and train crews to safely handle this kind of emergency, as well as how to properly respond to media coverage, according to a Fort Worth Transportation Authority press release.

    Participants, including students from the University of Texas at Arlington and volunteers from the Fort Worth community, were given cards describing the character they portrayed and the symptoms they gave the paramedics after the crash.

    Kiersten Booren, a student in George’s international and intercultural communication class, said she played a 52-year-old man experiencing shortness of breath and heart attack symptoms. Booren, a junior international communication major, said she was strapped to and carried away on a backboard before later being taken away on a gurney.

    Senior international communications news-editorial majors Christina Ruffini and Michael Bou-Nacklie, both students in George’s international and intercultural communication class, were asked to play the roles of reporters because of their training and experience with university media outlets, George said.

    “The students playing reporters had to be pretty assertive,” George said. “Real reporters were there from local stations, so they had to have it in them to make sure their voices were heard.”

    Allison Osuniga and Elena Schafer, students in George’s public relations principles class participated as victims, George said.