Norfolk Southern Corporation’s safety train rolled into Chattanooga, Tenn., this week, hosting 195 area emergency responders who received advanced training in safely handling potential rail incidents involving hazardous materials.
“The safety train is a mobile technical training center – a vocational school – for the continuing education of first responders and representatives of government agencies who support Norfolk Southern’s commitment to incident-free handling of hazardous materials,” said David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern’s system manager hazardous materials. “It’s a whistle-stop train that helps keep our communities safe.”
Staged this week on a track near the Chattanooga Fire Department, the safety train attracted emergency responders from 14 Chattanooga-area and nearby northwest Georgia agencies, including the Chattanooga Police Department, Walker County Emergency Services, West Polk County Fire & Rescue, Tricommunity Volunteer Fire Department, Chattanooga Public Works Department, and the fire departments of Chattanooga, Red Bank, Rhea County, Wolf Creek, Bradley County, Soddy Daisy, Hayes, Centertown, and Dayton. Also represented were railroad emergency response contractors Marion Environmental Inc., SWS Environmental Services, and Hepaco.
"This is a great training opportunity," said Capt. Chris Cordes of the Chattanooga Fire Department. "You can learn about tank cars and boxcars in the classroom, but nothing beats the hands-on training we received here. When you come to a derailment, it's obviously not sitting on the tracks nice and neat. You have to know what you're looking at, and this really helps us get a grasp of what we might be faced with."
The train is visiting 18 cities in 13 states during its inaugural tour this year. To date, 1,710 emergency responders have received professional instruction on the train. At every location, emergency responders can choose from among three days of free training that includes instructor-led and hands-on learning. The train includes two boxcars converted into classrooms, four types of railroad tank cars used in transporting all types of chemicals, and two specially equipped flat cars.
“Norfolk Southern has a great safety record, but in the unlikely event of a train derailment involving hazmat, we want to make sure the communities we serve are prepared,” Schoendorfer said. “We are focusing on areas where we have significant hazmat shipments. It’s a best business practice to help with preparedness.”
The train’s next stop will be in Slidell, La., Nov. 8-10. To register in advance for training there or at another stop scheduled this year, visit www.joinNSoar.com and click on “Training” and “Download Invitation” near the bottom of the page. The training is beneficial for all emergency responders, including representatives of fire departments, law enforcement, emergency medical services, hazmat response teams, emergency management personnel, military, homeland security personnel, rail regulators, shippers, and customers.
The dedicated safety train is part of Norfolk Southern’s ”Operation Awareness and Response” initiative launched in 2015 to educate the public about the safe movement of hazardous materials by rail and to connect emergency first responders in Norfolk Southern communities with information and training resources. Including instruction on the train and through other course offerings, Norfolk Southern in 2016 has trained nearly 4,000 local emergency responders throughout its operating territory.
About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.
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