Pittsburgh, PA- As crude train derailments continue to plague Western Pennsylvania and communities across the state, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by emergency managers from throughout the region, pushed for legislation that could provide new resources and training to first responders. As derailments continue at an alarming rate, Senator 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. Casey was joined by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, members of Firefighters Local #1, a representative for Governor Wolf, as well as emergency managers from Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, Beaver County and Westmoreland County.
“Derailments have increased at an alarming rate. It’s time for a comprehensive, coordinated approach that aids our first responders,” Senator Casey said. “This is commonsense legislation that would work to ensure our first responders and emergency managers are getting the training and resources they need to respond to potential derailments.”
RESPONSE Act Summary
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.