Norfolk Southern to build new training center in Ohio for first responders amid derailments

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that Norfolk Southern Corporation will create a new training center in Ohio for first responders.

“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,” said DeWine. “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.”

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The new safety training center’s mission will focus on providing additional, free training for first responder across the region, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, according to DeWine’s office.

The effort will also strengthen coordination between railroads and first responders in the event of an emergency response, DeWine’s office said.

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

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

“These commitments are the direct result of my conversations with Governor DeWine and other leaders, all to better support our first responders and their communities. First responders are often immediately on the scene of a rail incident and we want to ensure they have the knowledge and tools to work safely and effectively to protect the health and safety of their fellow citizens,” said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw.

In addition to the new training center, Norfolk Southern will also expand its Operation Awareness & Response (OAR) program, which travels the company’s 22-state network and trains first responders on how to respond safely to rail incidents, according to a release from DeWine’s office.

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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