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WMATA report questions rail station managers' emergency readiness

An internal review found problems with station managers' maintenance of emergency cabinets, among other issues.
Photo – WMATA/Larry Levine


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) rail station managers are not properly maintaining emergency cabinets at stations, leaving the system poorly equipped to handle emergencies, according to the agency's recent internal review.

WMATA's Quality Assurance, Internal Compliance and Oversight (QICO) team found that managers failed to fill out cabinet content checklists at a number of stations. In addition, some stations' checklists were only partially filled out.

"This clearly indicates the lack of appropriate cabinets' inspection and maintenance," the internal review report stated.

The QICO team also found an expired first aid kit and a flashlight without batteries in one station's emergency cabinet.

What's more, the team noted that some station managers made several failed attempts to punch in the correct four-digit combination lock to open cabinets. In the case of an emergency, this could impose a "critical delay," the report said.

To remedy the issue, the team recommended that WMATA conduct supervisory checks to verify compliance with inventory and security protocols for the emergency cabinets.

Additionally, the QICO team found that some certain closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) had been out of service for an extended period of time. It was later determined that those specific monitors were non-operational as part of an ongoing update, but that information was not appropriately communicated to station managers.

The report classified the CCTV problem and emergency cabinet issues as drivers of potential high-risk situations. The team assessed risk level based on the probability of an "uncertain event or condition" happening.

As part of the overall review, the QICO team observed station managers' performance at 19 stations.