As crude train derailments continue to threaten Southeastern Pennsylvania and communities across the state, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) pushed for legislation that could provide new resources and training to first responders.
As derailments continue at an alarming rate, Sen. Casey wants to ensure first responders in communities near railroad tracks get proper resources. The legislation, the RESPONSE Act, would convene a first ever special task force on derailments that would create a new set of recommendations for training and resources.
“The increase in train derailments in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation is troubling and requires action,” Sen. Casey said. “This legislation is a commonsense approach that could give our first responders more training and the additional resources they need.”
The bill would establish a subcommittee under FEMA’s National Advisory Council to address training of first responders, particularly in smaller communities.
The RESPONSE Subcommittee would be tasked with bringing together all the relevant agencies, emergency responders, technical experts and the private sector for a review of training, resources, best practices and unmet needs related to emergency responders to railroad hazmat incidents.
All flammable hazmat response to railroad incidents would be within the scope of the Subcommittee, but given the potential increased risk associated with a derailment involving delivery of crude oil.
The Subcommittee would provide recommendations to Congress within 12 months on emergency responder training and resource allocation.These will include addressing effectiveness of current funding levels related to training local emergency responders; strategy for integration of commodity flow studies, mapping, and access platforms for local emergency responders and how to increase the rate of access to the individual responder in existing or emerging communications technology; the development of a train incident database; and the need to increase access to relevant, useful, and timely information for the local emergency responders among other things.