After canceling a scheduled appearance on FOX 5 Thursday to discuss Monday's deadly smoke incident on Metro, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined us on Friday morning.
"Well, I'm very proud of our brave men and women in the fire department whose responsibility it is to respond to an incident like on Metro in the district. We know that they evacuated 200 people from that tunnel and 86 were transported safely to area hospitals. So I feel very proud of what they're doing," said Bowser.
"Our job, of course, now is to make sure that we know everything that happened," she continued.
Many FOX 5 viewer questions concerning the incident focused on the time it took to get help to people who were on the train.
"Well, we released, my administration released a complete timeline of, I should say, initial timeline, that demonstrates all the calls that we received. What we expect to do today is have a fuller release of information that summarizes what the radio communication was between firefighters at the scene. We know when we got the call to L'Enfant Plaza it was nine minutes to get to L'Enfant Plaza, which is a pretty fast response. What we know less about is that time between when our firefighters arrived there and when they had access - when they were able to get to the train itself. We think that listening to that radio communication will shed some light on that," said the mayor.
Bowser was asked if she thinks something different could have been done concerning the family of Carol Glover, the woman who died as a result of the incident.
"As soon as I had the next of kin information, certainly I reach out to the family, who I'm still trying to reach. But I understand her sister, Ms. Glover's sister, lives in the district, and she may have a brother who has a business in the district. I also, I think the next day spoke to the Governor of Virginia and the Governor and Governor elect of Maryland to talk about what the regional response should be. When we talk about any incidents on Metro, Metro is a regional authority, and all of the things that it needs is going to take a regional response," she said.
"I plan to go, I'm hosting young men to watch Selma down at Gallery Place on Saturday, and we'll be taking the Metro,"she said.
When asked if she thinks it was a satisfactory response, Mayor Bowser said she believes the response was fast.
"I feel we responded to L'Enfant plaza very, very quickly. I'll know more about the 13 minutes between, or 11 minutes, between when our firefighters got there and got to the train. So what's important, and I think what's important for viewers, is we get to the bottom of what happened, first of all with the cause, and we make sure that all of our first responders have the resources that they need to respond, and that's our job. I will tell you, my initial view is that our folks got there very fast," she said.
A viewer question to FOX 5 asked why is there not an emergency response team specifically designed to deal with Metro trains stuck in tunnels full of smoke?
"We got a question about this yesterday," said Bowser, "and our Director of Emergency Management went over the types of training that we have with Metro, and that all the first responders around the region have with Metro. So that training is ongoing and does happen."
Bowser also added that all safety information inside the train cars may not been seen by riders and that improvements will be made.
"We're one of the safest cities in the world in terms of being prepared for security events," Mayor Bowser said when asked if she is confident in the city's response and confident that Metro can handle large crowds. "Part of that is because our city, all of our security apparatus and public transportation, is practiced in these national security events and in emergencies, such as what we saw down in the Metro just this past Monday. We also have demonstrated that our units can respond. So what we have to do right now is just look at the incident. See if anything was wrong in the response and make sure we fix it."
The mayor said she does not think the incident will impact events and tourists coming to D.C.
"No, I don't. I think what has been important is first of all, we know that our system carries almost a million people a day - and day in and day out - it does it safely. What I have demonstrated and what is important to me is that we share everything about this incident and make our system even safer."
Mayor Bowser said that more details about the incident should be released in the next day.
"I'm hoping that in the next 24 hours that we'll be able to release an initial phase of that report that flushes out some of that timeline. By next week I've actually asked our Homeland Security Agency to look at all of our agencies that responded - more than the fire department. So there was some question about radio communication - we want to make sure that the quality of radio communication among our firefighters into Metro is good as well. And how we got our people out to hospitals - make sure that's happening as fast as possible. So I expect that at the end of next week."
Training protocols and after action recommendations will also be reviewed, the mayor said.
Since Mayor Bowser took office on January 2, 2015, she has handled several snow emergencies and this incident on the Metro.
"Part of the job as mayor is to make sure all of our agencies of the government are responding as they should and I think we've been working hard to do that."