Association of American Railroads pilots emergency dispatch system for agencies in Sumner County, Tennessee

Working to increase information access for first responders, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) this week partnered with emergency management agencies in Sumner County, Tenn., to pilot a new emergency dispatching system complete with AskRail data.

AskRail was a frontline tool for first responders first developed in 2014, meant to provide vital information on rail cars’ contents and emergency response guides for navigating rail accidents. This information will now be provided from dispatch centers, so first responders will have the data going into an emergency. AAR’s Hazmat Committee and AskRail Task Force created a new training module for emergency communications centers on effectively using the AskRail app to support first responders and emergency planners.

“The industry has long collaborated with the first responder community to ensure the right tools and training are in place should a rail emergency occur,” AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies said. “After East Palestine, we heard that challenges such as lack of cell phone service made using AskRail difficult in the early hours of the response. By extending access and training to dispatch centers, we’re adding another layer of coverage to communities that will keep the information flowing to those on the front lines of a rail emergency.”

AAR is a railroad safety and productivity policy, research, and technology organization, which includes major freight railroads in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. While its test pilot in Sumner County is a major first step, it is actively working on expanding access to AskRail further. A similar pilot is being sought in Canada, after which AAR intends to deploy the program at emergency communication centers across North America.

Overall, AAR will seek to double the number of first responders with access to AskRail by the end of the year.

Chris Galford

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