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Area government leaders praise response from emergency crews

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) Several area government leaders are praising the first responders who reacted so quickly Sunday when two trains collided in Lexington County. The response was seamless and the county’s emergency plan for mass casualty events worked exceptionally well. The injured were quickly treated and transported to area hospitals and the others were taken to Pine Ridge Middle School where they were fed, given comfort, and experienced firsthand southern hospitality in the midst of tragedy.

Even now, there are county employees involved in many areas of the recovery effort. Whether providing security or support, these men and women are giving of themselves without any thought of being praised. Sometime in the future they will be involved in an after-action review to see if there are ways that they can improve. Personally, I can’t believe they’ll discover many deficiencies.

Yesterday, Lexington County’s Administrator Joe Mergo released the following on the county’s social media page:

“When it comes to displaying selflessness and service excellence in our fields of discipline, County of Lexington employees are second to none.

Our response to the Sunday morning train collision was seamless. It exemplified that our service is more than just our job, it’s our hearts on full display.

Through this we have been thrust, yet again, into the national and international spotlight. Our employees and partners met this challenge with fortitude and experience.

Our training and partnerships with other agencies were put to the test. Due to our diligence in striving to perfect our services, passengers received unprecedented care from all of the agencies involved. The successful handling of this event was directly related to "one team, one goal" mindset from all involved.

We are thankful to everyone who reached out to us offering assistance, prayers and gratitude. We truly appreciate the cooperation from the passengers and their patience during this traumatic event. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all families impacted by this event.

I am humbly honored to lead and be engrained in this culture of service excellence and to serve the residents and visitors of this County alongside you.”

The City of Cayce’s Mayor Elise Parton released the following statement:

“Yesterday, tragedy struck as two trains collided only a few miles from City Hall including the loss of two men, Michael Kempf and Michael Cella, whose lives will not be forgotten.

Amidst the tragedy that all of the 139 passengers and 8 Amtrak employees experienced, first responders, medical personnel at area hospitals and even the passengers themselves acted with tremendous fearlessness as they worked together to free fellow passengers and get them to safety.

I would like to particularly thank the Cayce Department of Public Safety as they were first to arrive on this horrific scene as well as the surrounding police, fire and EMS crews that were all quick to respond.

Today, as we mourn those lives lost and the Nation Transportation Safety Bureau continues to investigate, we pray for those in our City, our region and around the nation that were impacted by this tragedy.

If you are still looking for a loved one that may have been on Amtrak 91, please call 1-800-523-9101. As always, our City and our staff are here to help in any way we can."

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