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British Technology Could Speed Metro's Emergency Response

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Rebecca Sheir
Metro finally abandoned its three-year battle against the transit workers union yesterday, agreeing to a wage increase and almost $100 million in back wages and pension payments.

By Rebecca Sheir

Metro is importing technology from Great Britain to speed up emergency response times. First responders say new battery-powered vehicles could have been invaluable after last June's fatal crash on the Red Line.

It takes firefighters from Arlington, Virginia less than two minutes to assemble a Mobile Emergency Response Vehicle, or MERV. Chief Jim Daugherty of the Arlington County Fire Department says Metro is storing 26 un-assembled units throughout its rail system.

"So they're gonna have to take em out, you know, piece by piece and put them together on the track bed," says Daugherty. "And then get them down the track."

The London Fire Brigade used MERVs after the 2005 bombings in the Underground. Bill Whetzel of the D.C. Fire Department says his rescue squad used manual push-carts after last June's Red Line crash.

"I could have loaded a lot more equipment on this cart here," says Whetzel, "and bring victims out."

Since MERVs can run up to 12 miles an hour, they can turn what could be a 45-minute walk into a four-minute ride.

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