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Monday, April 19, 2010

PGFD Personnel Catch AMTRAK Training

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

Nearly 400 members of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department have recently completed training with safety officials from AMTRAK. Companies and command officers throughout the Department have been participating in Amtrak training for the past two months. In March, AMTRAK officials conducted two weeks of classroom training sessions at area fire stations. Stations and personnel receiving the training are ones that would normally respond to incidents involving AMTRAK and MARC commuter trains. In April, safety officials from AMTRAK conducted the hands-on portion training at the Ivy City Yard Rail in Washington DC.

The CSX training was initiated by Second Battalion Chief John Keller after one of his first responses in a supervisory capacity was for a locomotive on fire. There were some awareness and training issues that occurred on the incident and he sought the guidance of a retired member of the Department. Keller contacted retired PGFD Battalion Chief Doug Osterhouse, former heavy rail liaison officer for the Department. As it turns out; Doug Osterhouse is currently employed by AMTRAK as an instructor in their Emergency Preparedness Department and offered to facilitate training for the Fire/EMS Department.

Between 150 and 200 passenger trains, AMTRAK and MARC, operate through Prince George's County each day, each having the capacity of carrying 1,250 passengers on one train. Battalion Chief Keller stated, “There exists a potential for a large incident that we need to be prepared for. This training has generated a lot of round table discussion at the fire stations on how to prepare themselves to handle such large incident.”

During the hands-on training, Jeff Wiegel, Manger of AMTRAK’s Emergency Preparedness Department and Doug Osterhouse conducted a walk through of the different types of commuter trains. Firefighters were able to visually see the escape windows, emergency brakes, solid train construction and different designs of the trains.

The training highlighted awareness and that operating on the scene of a railroad emergency is not a normal operation. Fire/EMS personnel will be faced with hazards they do not usually encounter. Crews need to understand the potential hazards around them while operating on a rail way, which would include but not limited to the rail traffic and electrical hazards. Instructor Osterhouse stated, “It is our desire that personnel attending this awareness training leave understanding the unique danger and potential for danger that heavy rail traffic brings into a firefighters operation.”

For additional training go to http://www.csxsafe.com/  for a 20 minute drill on Rail Safety.

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