Forty first responders from nine states took part this summer in a Norfolk Southern-sponsored crude-by-rail emergency response class at the Association of American Railroads' Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colo. 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. As the AAR graph below illustrates, US crude oil production has rocketed upward over the past five years.