Emergency Responders Complete Tank Car Safety Course

Omaha, Neb., June 11, 2007 – Twenty-four emergency response personnel from across the nation have completed the most recent tank car safety course sponsored by Union Pacific.

“Our program is designed to provide the knowledge and skills local responders need to analyze an emergency and plan a response within their capabilities,” said Dean Cooper, manager, hazardous materials, Union Pacific. “The course offers information on how responders can protect themselves and their communities when an emergency occurs.”

The training covers a variety of safety subjects including how to identify tank car types, fittings and composition during an emergency. Participants also receive hands-on experience in assessing tank car damage, making repairs, transferring hazardous materials from damaged equipment and using protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus.

For a final exam, class members participate in three simulated hazardous material accidents. The simulations help students understand how the railroad works with them in an emergency, and how to work safely while on railroad property.

The five-day, 40-hour course was held at the Association of American Railroad’s Transportation Technology Center near Pueblo, Colo. Union Pacific covers all attendees’ expenses, with no cost to communities or organizations.

Since 1986, Union Pacific has sponsored nearly 40 five-day training programs at the Transportation Technology Center for more than 700 emergency response personnel from communities served by UP, as well as more than 100 Union Pacific response personnel.

In addition to the tank car safety courses at the Transportation Technology Center, Union Pacific offers local hazardous material training programs to communities. More than 160,000 emergency response personnel have attended various training programs since 1979.

Emergency response personnel attending the recent course were:

  • Arkansas:
    Scot Erwin, Conway Fire Department, Conway
  • Arizona:
    Steven Calderon, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Phoenix
  • California:
    Tom Azzopardi, South San Francisco Fire Department, South San Francisco
    Gustavo Garcia, Calipatria Fire Department, Calipatria
  • Colorado:
    Brian Brown, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Springs
  • Illinois:
    Richard Blevins, Sauget Fire Department, Sauget
  • Iowa:
    Kevin Pyles, Saylor Township Fire Department, Des Moines
  • Kansas:
    Preston Gonsalves, Wichita Fire Department, Wichita
  • Louisiana:
    Arrid Hansell, Louisiana State Police, Kenner
  • New Mexico:
    Levi Chavez, Office of Emergency Management, Santa Rose
  • Oklahoma:
    John Hansen, Jr., Oklahoma City Fire Department, Oklahoma City
  • Texas:
    Vincent Abrigo, McAllen Fire Department, McAllen
    Tom Dransfield, Forest Hill Fire-Rescue, Forest Hill
    Brooke Hildreth, San Antonio Fire Department, Bulverde
    Kevin Machemehl, OXY Vinyl, Deer Park
    Larry Perry, Harris County Hazardous Materials Response Team, Richmond 
  • Virginia:
    Brandon Hancock, FBI, Quantico
  • Washington:
    Jeff Barsness, Kent Fire Department, Mount Vernon

Union Pacific Railroad employees attending the course were: James Buck, Jr., Humble, Texas; Scott Ellerbee, Cabot, Ark.; John Grogan, Omaha, Neb.; Lee Koehler, DeSoto, Mo.; Lou Oborny, Omaha, Neb.; Mark Rowley, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Instructors included Dean Cooper, manager-hazardous materials, Union Pacific; Timothy O’Brien, regional manager-hazardous materials, Union Pacific; Mike Moore, manager-hazardous materials, Union Pacific; Joe Barbari, Transportation Technology Center, Inc.; Al Maty, chief inspector, Association of American Railroads-Bureau of Explosives.

About Union Pacific

Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America’s leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, links 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country and serves the fastest-growing U.S. population centers. Union Pacific’s diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad offers competitive long-haul routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways. Union Pacific connects with Canada’s rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major gateways to Mexico, making it North America’s premier rail franchise.


For further information, contact Mark Davis at (402) 544-5459.

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