According to a recent report by WLOX in Biloxi, MS, one organization in Mississippi is helping law enforcement deal with train crashes. According to the report, there are almost 3,000 train accidents every year, and about 1,000 people die as a result. Operation Lifesaver thought there was something that should be done about those numbers.
Operation Lifesaver and two other organizations created a collisions investigation course for law enforcement officers. The purpose of the course was to teach first responders about how to deal with a train accident that could involve a chemical spill. The instructor, Bill Jacobs, told the officers that the course was meant to protect them and to protect the general public.
Jacobs told the officers that they can tell what kind of train car they are dealing with by looking at the fittings after a crash. "If this car was to derail and go sliding along on it's [sic] bottom, it's not going to break off a fitting and release high pressure gas. So you know from the road from your spot light immediately your dealing with a low pressure tank," said Jacobs. This technique allows first responders to access an accident scene without getting too close to the site and risking exposure to dangerous chemicals.
In addition to the fittings, Jacobs told the first responders to look for placards that are supposed to be on both sides and both ends of the rail car. "We're teaching them today to learn how to read the placards to know what's on the train how to look at the train to know which parts of the train maybe injured," explained Kim Sloan, Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver. For Sloan, involving law enforcement and first responders creates fewer hazards for those having to process the scene of a railway accident. She said, "by bringing the law enforcement officers in and first responders in and talking to them a little bit about how to investigate these situations, we're getting them on our team and bringing about more awareness of the dangers associated with highway rail grade crossings."