Powered by a passion for safety that unites all Canadian railroaders, the Railway Association of Canada (RAC)’s Dangerous Goods and Mechanical (DG&M) teams are back in the field and training in-person, in earnest.
From a COVID-imposed slowdown of just 18 TRANSCAER sessions in 2021, the DG Team is rescheduling a back log of community outreach events in 2022 that were canceled in 2020/2021 in cities and towns across the country.
“It’s the best, most important part of our job,” says JP Couture, whose geographic responsibilities include Quebec and the Maritimes. “We meet first responders to share valuable information and knowledge to better prepare them in responding to a potential railway incident. It gives them comfort and builds confidence to foster a better understanding of what to expect if ever they need to respond to a railway incident.”
The DG&M team was far from idle over the pandemic.
The group revamped its Railway Emergency Response Awareness Guide (Job Aid) from A to Z, growing the contents from 40 pages to more than 100pages of information.
The team also delivered virtual training sessions to member railways, volunteer and career fire departments, chemical and petroleum plants, as well as different industry associations – all with a shared stake in the safe transportation of dangerous goods
“We can providevirtualtraining utilizing PowerPoint, but First Responders prefer onsite hands-ontraining where they can touch the equipment,” says Curtis Myson, a dangerous goods specialist whose geographic coverage area is Western Canada.
Training is provided free of charge to departments of all sizes, including career, volunteer, and Indigenous Peoples.
The DG team’s topline message to First Responders is you’re never alone if something happens, the railways will provide the resources needed at an incident.
“We can bring the resources to support fire departments at a rail incident through strategically placed personnel and equipment across our systems and across the county,” says Myson.
RAC’s DG&M teams include three ‘field guys’ who train first responders and a mechanical team of two trainer-experts in open-top loading.
The mechanical team visits shippers and railyards to advise on rules, regulations, and safety-enhancing practices. Kevin Ouimet, veteran rail inspector and mechanical supervisor who also served as a volunteer fire fighter for five years, is its newest member. He joins a growing safety community across the country and across sectors.
“It’s all about safety at the end of the day,” says Ouimet. “At railways and other shippers, there are more and more individuals sharing photos, resources, and information so everyone can learn.”
Long-time railroaders like Couture, Myson, and Ouimet – and their teammates Andy Ash and Robert Corfield – have seen “tremendous” advances in technology and mechanical safety over the years. And each takes pride in building on an enviable record to make Canadian rail even safer.
“It’s rewarding and does feel good when you put the effort in and people say: “Thanks, that was great training!” says Myson of community training sessions. “When we’re being requested to come into a community and train first responders, obviously we’re providing a respected and valuable service.”
Both DG & mechanical teams are working quickly through a backlog of COVID-era requests and are booking more sessions all the time. If interested in booking a training session in your community, you can find their contact info here.