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First responders get train safety training after Ohio derailment

LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) — Ohioan’s have gotten familiar with the name Norfolk Southern. 

Earlier this year, one of their trains derailed in East Palestine. In an effort to keep 100 train cars from exploding, the railroad did what it called a “controlled explosion.”

But state officials said the explosion released chemicals into the air which led to mass evacuations. That was followed by national attention.

“Since East Palestine, we have had a larger interest in this.”

That’s a quote from Norfolk Southern Spokesman, Connor Spielmaker, who’s spending Wednesday in Lorain with his company’s safety team.

Every year, this group travels to 13 cities to work one one-on-one with first responders to help them get familiar with railway emergencies.

“What we do here is really furthering training that they already have. Every fire department is trained on how to respond to hazmat situations. So we aren’t training them on something they don’t know, it’s just different materials.”

One of the unique parts of this training is that it is literally hands-on. 

Norfolk provides a special train, designed with a number of different types of cars for a more diverse learning experience.

Their local hazmat officials take firefighters through several different courses, teaching them how to respond to several different scenarios.

“What we do here is training for a very rare scenario but also those more common incidents like a crossing accident.”

All of it is paid for by Norfolk Southern to develop a relationship with first responders around the country.

“Railway emergencies are rare. So when they happen, if they happen, they know what the railroad will bring. They know what resources we have so they know how we are going to respond.”


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