Norfolk Southern Trains Local Responders

As part of a voluntary industry initiative, Norfolk Southern is helping to train local emergency responders in how to safely respond to potential incidents involving trains moving crude oil.

Norfolk Southern and other large railroads are sponsoring classroom and hands-on training at the Association of American Railroad’s Security and Emergency Response Training Center in Pueblo, Colo. The railroads in early 2014 committed $5 million to the initiative, including developing a three-day training course and paying for 1,500 first responders to attend.

In 2014, Norfolk Southern invested $126,000 to enhance training at the AAR’s training center. The company also provided $378,000 to cover the costs of travel and training for 126 first responders from 11 states, primarily along the company’s crude oil transport corridors. Those participants included fire chiefs, paramedics, homeland security officials, hazardous materials officers, and others from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Employees in Norfolk Southern’s hazardous materials and environmental operations assisted with training. Attendees learned about the different types of crude oil moved by rail; basic site and damage assessment at a derailment; tank car design and construction; planning for crude oil incidents; and working with the railroad. A simulated derailment of 20 tanker cars offered hands-on training.

In 2015, Norfolk Southern plans to sponsor training for 80 additional emergency responders in June.

“There have been numerous initiatives over the past two years to address the increased volumes of crude oil traveling on the nation’s railways, including regulatory rulemakings, emergency orders, and voluntary programs. The crude-by-rail training is part of a voluntary commitment to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It provides a unique hands-on learning environment for emergency responders, and it plays an important part in the rail industry’s larger local community preparedness programs.”

Rich Russell
system director environmental protection

Funds for Emergency Gear

In addition to helping train local first responders in rail safety, Norfolk Southern provides financial assistance enabling local communities to purchase emergency response gear and equipment.

In 2014, the Norfolk Southern Foundation, the corporation’s charitable giving arm, contributed $264,600 to 90 local communities, including fire, police, and emergency medical services, to purchase equipment and supplies and provide training and organizational support.