NewsEast Palestine Train Derailment


Norfolk Southern railroad safety training begins following 2 Ohio train derailments a month apart

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Posted at 5:55 PM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 20:24:50-04

BELLEVUE, Ohio — Dozens of first responders from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are learning what to do in case of a railroad emergency.

“Given this training, the hands-on experience just gives them that familiarity to make muscle memory to be able to do those things safely,” said Conner Spielmaker, senior communications director, Norfolk Southern.

Their goal is also to build relationships with emergency crews, which Norfolk Southern claims it had with the East Palestine Fire Department before the toxic derailment on February 3rd.

“We already knew the East Palestine Fire Department,” said Spielmaker. “They knew us, so they were able to seamlessly start working together from day one.”

Tuesday's training itself is nothing new, this course launched in 2015. The lessons learned from the East Palestine derailment aren't being taught yet and are still to be determined.

“We are going with the NTSB to understand the full scope of what happened in East Palestine and any type of information that comes out of that," said Speilmaker. "We can make changes to make Norfolk Southern an even safer railroad, we are going to take and reimplement that."

The Ohio Association of Professional Firefighter's president, Jon Harvey, felt this recent push for safety training is an afterthought by railroad operator Norfolk Southern.

“I'm sure there's some damage control that has to do with this, but you know this can't be something that's done for the first quarter or first half of 2023 and forgot about,” said Harvey.

Norfolk Southern says the training was scheduled prior to the February train derailment in East Palestine.

District 3 Vice President Cory Wilson, who covers jurisdictions that responded to the East Palestine derailment, said firefighters feel frustrated.

“The big thing right now is continuing to monitor their general health and make sure there were no factors in which they were exposed to,” Wilson said.

Norfolk Southern said it remains committed to making East Palestine and those involved in the derailment whole again, but Harvey wishes the state would increase funding to help local fire departments purchase improved equipment to respond to hazardous situations.

“It's kind of like you have all the training in the world, to fight a fire but if you don't have a firetruck sitting outside the burning structure,” Havery said. “It really does you no good.”

OAPFF does not plan on joining any lawsuits against Norfolk Southern.

RELATED: Erin Brockovich holding 2 town hall events this week about East Palestine train derailment

CLICK HERE to read News 5's previous coverage of the East Palestine Train Derailment.

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