BELLEVUE, Ohio (WTVG) — Railroad safety in Ohio has been a major topic of discussion in recent months.
Ongoing discussions resulted in local first responders having additional first-hand experience with train safety on Tuesday.
The training aims to help mitigate potential disasters should an incident like East Palestine ever occur.
For some of the rescuers present, this training was their first encounter with the train, during which they learned how they work and what to do in the event of a natural disaster.
“The most important thing we can do is evacuate. We always put the safety of the community first. We can replace this equipment. We cannot replace people,” said Kevin Neumeyer, head of the Hamler Volunteer Fire Department.
Chief Niemeyer knows that getting access to trains in rural areas can be tricky. Planning for this and their size now can go a long way.
“The most important thing is to be aware of how big the trains are and how long it takes to stop. The length of the trains is getting longer and longer every day,” Chief Niemeyer said.
The City of Toledo also sent its Department of the Environment for training. Department officials told 13abc that it’s rare to know right away exactly which chemicals are being carried on a train, and it can be even harder to decipher during a natural disaster.
“You can find out how we found out today, but usually we don’t know anything right away. We will have to dig a little deeper to find information, but this information is available to us, ”said Kyle Timbrook.
Norfolk Southern has already offered such mobile learning. However, the East Palestine crash has raised awareness and desire for information on everything from the engine to the tanker on display.
“In general, the program has existed for several years and gives really good results. So, we don’t have many changes to make, but obviously I know there are probably some issues with the railroad. Overall, we will continue to work with the NTSB and the FRA to determine what we can do to make the railroad even safer,” said Norfolk Southern’s Connor Spielmaker.
Norfolk Southern has said it will offer training for firefighters in our area if they request it.
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