Jefferson County firefighters take part in rail safety training - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Jefferson County firefighters take part in rail safety training

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MT. VERNON, Ill. -- Firefighters from all around Jefferson County learn how to better respond to rail incidents, in an effort to keep themselves and locals safe. 

Participants from Mt.Vernon, Ashley, Waltonville and Woodlawn all came together for rail safety and emergency response training put on by Norfolk Southern. This four-day session is part of a larger program by the railway, which is being taught in cities throughout the country. 

Cristofer Burch, a Hazardous Material Compliance Officer for Norfolk Southern, says rail emergencies greatly differ from situations involving a home or vehicle. "The problem with train responses is that there's so many different chemicals, and there are some things on a locomotive that we don't want them to touch due to the danger of the voltage." 

To respond to these incidents more safely, Mt.Vernon Assistant Fire Chief  Kevin Sargent says, participants focused on hazmat technician training. "How to take care of leaks from a leaking tank car or how to close valves or how to operate different valves," he explains. 

Sargent says the other sessions prepared attendees for locomotive fires and first aid, "If there's an engineer or conductor of a train that's having a medical emergency, how we would respond to get them out of the locomotive and to treatment." 

Although its been nearly six years since a major rail incident in the area, Sargent says, it's better to be prepared. "We have trains, they come through our communities everyday. We don't have to second guess. We can just go straight to work and evacuate people if we need to, whatever the case may be." 

The rail safety and emergency response training program by Norfolk Southern has been held since 2016. Last year, more 7,000 first responders participated. 

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