The 911 call comes in.

As the driver of an emergency response vehicle, you wonder how fast you can get to the collision scene, and often, you only have seconds to pick the best route. Operation Lifesaver asks you remember something important about that decision: It's impossible for trains to yield to your fire engine or ambulance at highway-rail grade crossings, and trains always have the right-of-way.

Trains cannot stop quickly, nor can they swerve to avoid a collision with objects or vehicles on the tracks. In fact, a loaded freight train weighing 6,000 tons and traveling at 55 mph can take more than one mile - the length of 18 football fields - to stop, even with emergency brakes applied. To complicate matters, studies reveal it's difficult for drivers of emergency response vehicles to hear a train's warning whistle signaling its approach because their own siren is so loud.

To help you minimize driving hazards at highway-rail intersections, and to ensure your personal safety when responding to a rail incident, Operation Lifesaver offers the following informational aids:

  • Emergency Response: Your Safety First - This Operation Lifesaver video provides key rail safety information for emergency responders. Order this video from one of OL's licensed vendors.
  • Safety Tips for Emergency Responders offers a quick rail safety refresher for first responders.

Rail Safety for Emergency Responders (RSER)

Operation Lifesaver's classroom course, Rail Safety for Emergency Responders (RSER), is available nationally for training emergency response professionals including fire, EMS, emergency management agencies, military and homeland security personnel. The program teaches first responders the key safety elements involved when they work around dangers inherent in a railroad environment. Our RSER course provides emergency responders with information critical for railroad incident response including: Safe response; knowledge of railroad electrical, fuel and air systems; hazardous materials; identifying rolling stock; pinch points; stopping a train; high/low pressure tank cars, and other on-scene dangers.

Schedule an RSER course in your area, or submit an application to become an RSER instructor in your state (positions are limited.)

Print and post this RSER poster promoting the RSER course.

Train Horn vs. Sirens

Question: Which is louder, a train horn or an emergency vehicle siren?
Answer: Deactivated sirens in an emergency vehicle approaching a highway-rail grade crossing won't necessarily allow the driver to hear an approaching train horn. Ambient noise levels in the vehicle's cab often drown out the train's warning sounds. Our RSER course provides EMS personnel with information necessary to help them prepare their response to a railroad incident.

Schedule an RSER course in your area.

For additional information on RSER training courses, contact us.