Norfolk Southern brings together emergency responders for crude-by-rail safety class

First responders from nine states took part in a Norfolk Southern-sponsored crude-by-rail emergency response class recently at the Association of American Railroads’ Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colo.

The event marked the latest in Norfolk Southern‘s ongoing efforts to facilitate rail-focused training for emergency personnel across its operating system.

Forty responders from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Alabama participated last week in a three-day course. Participants learned about the different kinds of crude oil being transported, types of tank cars used for crude transportation and crude oil response precautions. They also practiced specialized firefighting techniques during a mock 20-car derailment and fire.

“This is top-notch,” said Jason Hudgens, a firefighter and paramedic from Akron, Ohio, who participated in the training. “We were on a 52-acre facility in the desert, and they ignited a fire to create a real-life situation. We could feel the heat and use the hoses to spray foam. You can’t do that in a classroom. You can’t do this anywhere else.”

The training is part of the freight rail industry’s commitment to provide specialized crude-by-rail training and tuition assistance to 1,500 first responders during 2014. Norfolk Southern will provide tuition, travel and expenses for a total of 126 responders to attend the training this year at no cost to communities or organizations. Additional NS classes will be held in October and November.

“NS is committed to enhancing safety, which includes not only sound train operations, but also preparing for emergency situations,” said David Julian, NS vice president safety and environmental. “Pre-planning and training for first responders is essential to help them perform their duties when the need arises. With respect to the crude oil traffic segment, we look forward to working with emergency response agencies to assist them with hazardous materials planning, training, and resources to help them prepare for and to minimize impacts in the unlikely event of an incident.”

In 2013, NS safety and environmental teams trained more than 4,800 state and local emergency responders at 108 locations across the railroad’s 22-state network, and since 2000, NS has provided classroom and hands-on training to 62,000 responders.