First responders train for train derailment scenario in Louisville

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 2:21 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Some Louisville first responders trained this week for a potentially deadly, but hypothetical, scenario: a train derailment involving hazardous materials.

In a simulation Thursday, the nearest expert on the hazardous materials it may be carrying is hours away. The only people that can get there are first responders, so they have to know what to do. That’s why the Jefferson County HazMat Response Team teamed up with Norfolk Southern to make sure that’s the case.

“This isn’t training they can get anywhere else other than in coordination with the railroad,” said Norfolk Southern spokesperson Jeff DeGraff.

During this training, first responders will figure out what kind of materials are being transported, determine if any of the containers have been compromised and fix them if need be. They’re in contact with officials from the railroad company (which in this case is Norfolk Southern), but they’re still on their way to the scene and may not be there for hours.

It all comes down to what first responders are able to accomplish in the most crucial parts of the situation: the beginning.

“There are a lot of folks that need to come together to respond quickly and efficiently to limit the impact that it will have,” said DeGraff, “and we don’t want to have those communications begin at the time of the incident.”

Norfolk Southern’s Operation Awareness and Response (OAR) program comes every few years. They provide classroom opportunities on top of the hands-on drills.

This drill involved members of the Pleasure Ridge Park, Okolona, Jeffersontown, Buechel, Fern Creek and Anchorage Middletown fire departments.

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