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Gov. Mike DeWine, Norfolk Southern announce first responders training center in Ohio

Until the location of the center is identified, training classes will begin on March 22 at Norfolk Southern's Moorman Yard in Bellevue.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced a first responders training center will open in Ohio following the train derailment in East Palestine that happened on Friday, Feb. 3.

The announcement comes after Gov. DeWine said the Norfolk Southern Railway agreed to his idea of improving and expanding firefighter training by creating a new training center and expanding its Operation Awareness and Response Program (OAR). OAR travels the company's 22-state network and trains first responders on how to respond safely to railroad incidents. 

“The derailment in East Palestine made clear that ensuring first responders are prepared for disasters involving hazardous materials is vitally important to the safety of communities,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “Often first responders are volunteers, and their need to have the most up-to-date training and equipment is essential. Today’s commitment by Norfolk Southern is an important next step in the company’s commitment to make the citizens of Ohio and of East Palestine whole after the recent derailment, a commitment Ohio will continue to monitor closely.”

The mission of the new safety training center will be focused on the following: 

  • Providing additional, free training for first responders across the region, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia
  • Strengthen coordination between railroads and first responders in the event of an emergency response

Officials say that the location of the center will be decided in a partnership with community leaders. Until a location is determined, training classes will begin on Wednesday, March 22, at Norfolk Southern's Moorman Yard in Bellevue.

“These commitments are the direct result of my conversations with Governor DeWine and other leaders, all to better support our first responders and their communities. First responders are often immediately on the scene of a rail incident and we want to ensure they have the knowledge and tools to work safely and effectively to protect the health and safety of their fellow citizens,” said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw. 

Recently, Norfolk Southern also announced that they are expanding their OAR program. Four of the 12 scheduled training stops in 2023 will take place in Ohio. First responders will receive hands-on training during the program and training on the AskRail mobile app. 


EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on March 7, 2023, in an unrelated story.

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