GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Some have broken bones, almost all have cuts and bruises. Scout leaders told Local 5’s Barrett Tryon the training the scouts had likely saved lives.
“Their calm was, aside from the first aid and anything else, their ability to stay come and keep others calm was paramount,” said Matt Schultz, an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 12 based out of Appleton.
He, along with another troop, was on the way back from a trip to New Mexico when the Amtrak train they were on derailed in the middle of Missouri on Monday afternoon.
“It felt like if you’re in a car somebody slammed the brakes,” explained Schultz. “And we heard a bang. It jolted, the train continued for awhile, and then we could feel the train start to roll.”
That’s when the training for the Scouts kicked in.
“It seems hard to believe but that’s when things started to slow down, you really started to think about what was going to go on,” explained Schultz. “I really feel that because we’re required to do those trainings for these high adventure trips or any backcountry camping, or with Scouts, that we were able to do what we needed to do to click right in.”
Schultz said, almost immediately, people came from out of nowhere to help.
“We keep reminding them, for as bad as day as it was, we still had it better than other people,” he said.
The help also came from a local Boy Scout troop in Columbia, Missouri, raising more than $1,000 in a matter of hours.
“They could buy shoes for kids, underwear, deodorant, toothbrushes because many of these kids lost their bags on the train and weren’t able to recover them. Half of our kids had one or no shoes,” Schultz said.
The city of about 120,000 in the middle of Missouri open its arms to those on the train, including the many first responders who asked how they could help.
“For a disaster event, they handled it awesome. And they responded,” Schultz said choking back tears. “Humanity, humanity lives on and there are some great people in this part of the country.”
As the reality of what happens sets in, Schultz and his fellow scouts are thankful.
“We’re OK. We want to get home to see you but I always want to say you can believe in the scouting program because it prepared all these boys for what was happening,” he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, two adult leaders remained in the hospital for observation. The troops said they were eager to get home, but were waiting for everyone to be released from the hospital to be able to return together.