The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has completed its first Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) program, providing hazardous materials incident-response training to a combined group of employees from the New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway (NO&GC) and local first responders.
The ALERT program is provided at no cost to the participating entities with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA).
SLSI on March 7 said its instructors covered baseline information, safety and scene size-up, scene isolation and product identification, incident management, and rail industry collaboration with employees from the Jefferson Parish HazMat Team, Jefferson Parish Fire Department, Gretna Police Department, and NO&GC, Railway Age’s 2016 Short Line of the Year.
“The Short Line Safety Institute’s ALERT program complements our current training,” said Mitch Harris, Director Safety, Training and Regulatory Compliance at Rio Grande Pacific Corporation, parent company of NO&GC. “Following this exercise, our area first responders are better equipped to work closely with our railroad personnel to respond to a hazmat incident, prioritizing the safety of our community members, employees and property.”
“Ensuring that local first responders can rapidly and effectively respond to a hazardous materials incident in partnership with railroad personnel will provide the best opportunity for a safe well-coordinated incident response and community protection,” SLSI Executive Director Tom Murta said.
“During the ALERT program, not only do we review railroad operations, but we also stress the importance of proper and timely communications,” said Harry Hopes, Certified Hazardous Materials Manager and one of the program instructors. “In addition, by utilizing case studies we pass along valuable lessons to manage low-frequency high-risk events.”
The SLSI recently recognized its seventh year of operations, with more than 100 Safety Culture Assessments completed (the 100th was marked in 2021), and more than 200 hazardous materials training classes conducted on short line railroads.