CSX Transportation Boosts Emergency Responder Outreach

Like the Boy Scouts, the motto at CSX Transportation, the largest railroad in the eastern United States, could be "be prepared." Especially when it comes to keeping emergency responders prepared for rail-based accidents.

A comprehensive new CSXT emergency planning guide is now in place in more than 2,500 state and local emergency response and planning agencies across the eastern United States. The new manual gives detailed information concerning a wide range of possible occurrences, including the threat of terrorism.

"We feel a strong responsibility to help the communities along our lines prepare and plan for emergency events," said Skip Elliott, assistant general manager-hazardous material systems. Although the company's goal is zero accidents, accidental spills, derailments, highway-rail crossing incidents and other emergencies can occur, said Elliot, adding "We feel duty-bound to ensure readiness among our emergency response partners."

The Maryland Department of Environment is one such active emergency-response partner. Mike Sharon, who heads the department's emergency team, is an alumnus of CSXT emergency response and preplanning courses. He and his fellow responders receive more than 500 calls a year for expert assistance across the state on incidents involving oil, chemicals, radiation and, a new element, biological agents.

"Our success working quickly and efficiently with railroad incidents is because of our ongoing relationship with CSXT in our state," said Sharon. "We work well together because we know each other and train together. CSXT is an integral part of all of our emergency planning and training."

In addition to providing the emergency readiness guide, CSXT conducts a wide array of training programs covering correct handling of chemicals, gases, and other environmental hazards. CSXT also conducts hazardous materials instruction at the Association of American Railroad's Emergency Response Training Center in Pueblo, Colo. There, emergency personnel from around the country face true-to-life conditions as they learn to deal with fires, leaks, spills and other railroad emergencies.

In 2001, more than 5,000 emergency personnel attended CSXT training programs.

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