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Train-wreck-2 copyRail car incidents are a continuing concern for those with rail traffic in or around their community.  The recent disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec on July 6 highlights the importance for responders in rural communities to be prepared for rail car accidents when they occur.

This small, rural town of under 6,000 residents is the site of an important segment of the Canadian transcontinental railway system, which like in the United States, transports hazardous materials through mostly rural communities. Because most freight rail traffic traverses rural areas, it is important that responders understand the dangers and unique hazards these incidents present.  Due to the variety and volume of materials that can be involved in a freight rail car incident, it is imperative that first responders be well-trained to take appropriate actions without endangering the health and safety of the responders as well as the whole community.

To better prepare rural communities for the threat of rail car incidents, the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC) offers AWR 147 Rail Car Incident Response, an eight-hour, awareness-level training program developed to educate rural emergency responders on freight rail car incidents involving hazardous materials.

The free course is designed to increase participants’ skills in recognizing and characterizing the different types of rail cars, identifying potential leaks, and the courses of action to be taken based on initial site assessment.  The course provides information on potentially hazardous conditions that may exist at the scene, and allows students to become familiar with safe practices adopted by the first responder community and railroad industry.

Click here to learn more about AWR 147 Rail Car Incident Response.

This course is one of many DHS-certified courses available by RDPC.  If you would like to learn more about the RDPC or schedule training, visit or email  The RDPC help desk is also available 24/7 at (877) 855-7372. This training is tuition-free for qualifying rural jurisdictions and was developed by The University of Findlay, a member of the RDPC.