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Norfolk Southern to create Ohio first responders training center following derailment

The company also plans to expand its Operation Awareness and Response program, which trains first responders on responding to rail incidents

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On Feb. 3, 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

Photo/Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Editorial staff
The News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced March 8 that Norfolk Southern Corporation has agreed to his idea to improve and expand firefighter training by creating a new first responders training center and expanding its Operation Awareness and Response program, which travels the company’s 22-state network and trains first responders on how to respond safely to rail incidents, according to a news release.

The location of the center will be decided in partnership with community leaders, the release said.

Until a location is identified, training classes will begin March 22 at Norfolk Southern’s Moorman Yard in Bellevue.

“The derailment in East Palestine made clear that ensuring first responders are prepared for disasters involving hazardous materials is vitally important to the safety of communities,” DeWine said in the release. “Often first responders are volunteers, and their need to have the most up-to-date training and equipment is essential.

“Today’s commitment by Norfolk Southern is an important next step in the company’s commitment to make the citizens of Ohio and of East Palestine whole after the recent derailment, a commitment Ohio will continue to monitor closely.”

On Feb. 3, 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine.

The new safety training center’s mission will be focused on providing additional, free training for first responder across the region, the release said.

This effort also will strengthen coordination between railroads and first responders in the event of an emergency response, according to the release.

Norfolk Southern also is expanding its Operation Awareness and Response program, which was created to connect emergency first responders in Norfolk Southern communities with information and training resources.

In 2023, four of the 12 scheduled stops will be in Ohio.

First responders will be offered hands-on training in the form of the program’s safety train, which includes a dedicated locomotive, specially equipped classroom box cars and several tank cars.

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