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Law enforcers brush up on rail accident safety

Published: Feb. 17, 2012 at 3:08 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM CST
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PEARLINGTON, MS (WLOX) - There are about 3,000 train collisions in the U.S. every year that result in about 1,000 deaths. Here in Mississippi, Operation Lifesaver hopes to change that.

Thursday Operation Lifesaver joined forces with two other organizations to host a collision investigation course for Coast law enforcers.

"It's all about your personal safety and the safety of the public," said instructor Bill Jacobs.

They hope it never happens, but these first responder know with so many railroad crossings on the Coast, a car-train wreck that involves a chemical leak is a real possibility.

"If this car was to derail and go sliding along on it's bottom, it's not going to break off a fitting and release high pressure gas. So you know from the road from your spot light immediately your dealing with a low pressure tank," said Jacobs.

A rail car with a low pressure tank poses less of a danger depending on the material it's carrying.

Jacobs said, "They're required by law to be placard on both ends and both sides. That's another thing you might be able to see from the road with your spot light and not have to expose yourself to the car."

"We're teaching them today to learn how to read the placards to know what's on the train how to look at the train to know which parts of the train maybe injured," explained Kim Sloan, Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver.

Law enforcers from five coast police departments were shown from the railroad's prospective how to go about investigating a collision.

"You're able to find out if you're in a hazardous situation or not. The information that we're receiving will be helpful to all law enforcement officers," said officer Damon McDaniel, with the Gulfport Police Department.

Sloan added, "And by bringing the law enforcement officers in and first responders in and talking to them a little bit about how to investigate these situations, we're getting them on our team and bringing about more awareness of the dangers associated with highway rail grade crossings."

Friday, Operation Lifesaver hosted a second rail safety class for emergency responders.

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