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Wisconsin Congressman Pushes First Responder Training For Rail Accidents

Rep. Kind Says Communities Should Be Better-Prepared As Oil Shipments Grow

Randen Pederson (CC-BY)

First responders could get more training and resources to prepare for rail accidents in their community under a new bill introduced in Congress.

The RESPONSE Act, or Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation Act, would create a FEMA subcommittee that, in one year would, recommend how to best prepare and fund local emergency officials responding to train derailments and crude oil spills.

Democratic Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse is sponsoring the bill. He said the threat of derailments grows as oil shipments increase and, right now, states have different accident plans.

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“It’s important to get everyone on the same page so that we can clearly delineate what the areas of responsibility are, what each person’s role will be when it comes to rail safety issues, or the response to an accident so people aren’t floundering around during a time of crisis,” Kind said.

This effort comes at a time when there have been several high-profile train derailments and explosions, including one last week in West Virginia.

Kind credits some rail companies for stepping up and funding accident training for first responders.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin is cosponsoring the Senate version of the bill.