Hazardous materials training for firefighters responding to freight railroad incidents has been around for many years. Unfortunately, dealing with the most basic issues of how to contact the railroad, how to stop a train, how to shut down a locomotive, communicating effectively with the railroads, and just reading a wheel report (train documents), have often been issues that responding crews have had to muddle their way through, often by trial and error. Little in the way of comprehensive training and education has been readily available in this area.
Rail Safety for Emergency Responders is a new course now available through Operation Lifesaver (OL) that addresses these issues. Operation Lifesaver is a national, non-profit public safety education and outreach program designed to eliminate collisions, deaths and injuries at rail crossings and rights-of-way. OL has State Coordinators in every state except Hawaii and has over 3,000 Presenters in the United States trained to educate the public and special groups about rail safety. OL programs are also expanding in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Estonia.
Responders Safety First
Your safety first, is the theme of the program and is the title of the introductory video that urges responders to first review their own procedures for crossing railroad tracks or operating around trains. Developed through a cooperative effort of the major US and Canadian railroads, firefighters and EMS personnel, law enforcement agencies, hazardous materials trainers, along with input from Amtrak and Operation Lifesaver, this new Emergency Responder course is designed to fit into four hours of classroom instruction. Optional hands-on equipment familiarization at a nearby rail yard or siding is offered when possible to provide participants first-hand knowledge and awareness of specific railroad locomotive and freight car operations, functions, safety shut-offs, hazard locations, as well as on-scene right-of-way operational dangers and precautions.
Rail Safety for Emergency Responders provides response personnel education and training:
to prepare for potential train incidents even if their community has never had a rail incident
about the dangers of working on or around railroad property
about railroad-related factors that affect emergency response
to identify the types of railroad equipment and how to avoid danger
about the differences in terms used by the railroads to avoid miscommunications (Rail dispatchers learn responder terms to understand their calls.)
about Rail Corridor Emergency Response plans and how to develop them
Through good firefighter education and training we can reduce the number of incidents and close calls involving trains. For more information about Rail Safety for Emergency Responders contact Operation Lifesaver at 1-800-537-6224 or by email at [email protected] For more information about OL and the Emergency Responder course visit Operation Lifesavers web site at www.oli.org.