AYER -- Rescuers are looking for a few good people to act as victims of a commuter rail crash.

A simulation of a collision between a commuter rail and a freight train could entail artificial smoke to add realism, according to a press release from the state Department of Transportation. The drill is not expected to impact rail or road traffic.

During the two-hour event, rescuers will evacuate about 130 travelers from passenger cars and one person from a Pan Am freight train engine, said Ayer Fire Chief Robert Pedrazzi.

"It's going to be huge," he said.

The drill on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 15 is meant to test the capabilities of the departments that would respond to an incident in Ayer, he said.

Surrounding towns Westford and Sterling will take part in the exercise. It was planned by state agencies and private rail companies.

"They're going to film the whole thing," Pedrazzi said. The film will be used as a training video by the towns that take part and the partners.

Ayer is no stranger to rail safety planning. Long a transportation hub, it has a train yard and east/west and north/south tracks.

On two separate nights, Ayer responders attended a nighttime drill at Wachusett Station in Fitchburg.

Last month, Keolis, which runs the commuter rail, and the Federal Railroad Administration held a two-hour training session going over safety considerations such as how to power the engine down, Pedrazzi said.


Volunteer victims must be 12 or older. Those 18 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

The actual drill will run approximately from 10 a.m. to noon. Volunteers need to be available by 8 a.m.

"No improvising," the sign-up form warns. Participants must follow the directions that are given.

Volunteers must register online by Oct. 5 at https://goo.gl/DXCtTy

Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.