TransCAER: Organization Well-Placed To Meet Demands for Hazmat Security
Jan 1, 2002 12:00 PM
Emergency response to hazardous materials accidents took on a new importance after the September 11 terrorist attacks. One organization is well-placed to meet the new demands of keeping communities safe — TransCAER.
The Transportation Community Awareness Emergency Response (TransCAER) program, based in Arlington, Virginia, is an organization designed to assist communities in their emergency response programs — and doing it at the grassroots level. Members of TransCAER come from the chemical manufacturing, transportation, distributor, and emergency response industries, as well as the government.
“Many companies, organizations, and agencies throughout the country share the goal of TransCAER,” says Paul Little, Task Group chairman. “There are plenty of opportunities for companies or organizations to become involved in community emergency preparedness.”
Sponsors include the National Tank Truck Carriers, American Chemistry Council, Association of American Railroads, Chemical Education Foundation, and the Chlorine Institute. The Canadian Chemical Producers Association has incorporated TransCAER in its organizational structure and operates similar programs.
At the heart of TransCAER is the managing body, the Task Group, which leads the organization. In addition, the Task Group develops manuals and other tools to help regional and state coordinators implement the program.
The TransCAER goal is to reach out to communities that do not have a large chemical manufacturing presence, but are located on major highways. Regional coordinators and state teams oversee the programs in their areas and work with Local Emergency Planning Committees or other responder groups. They provide assistance by reviewing existing emergency response plans, helping to organize transportation advisory groups, and implementing transportation flow studies.
TransCAER representatives also assist in revising the emergency response plans to incorporate flow study results, hazmat transportation needs, and emergency response resource and training needs.
When the representatives complete an emergency response plan, they may choose to participate in exercises to test the plan's success. Through these efforts they establish an ongoing dialogue with local officials, response agencies, and the public.
To coordinate the various TransCAER regions, the representatives divided the United States into six regions. Each region and each state has a coordinator. State coordinators work with communities within their states.
Representatives are encouraged to participate in community activities, civic events, and education programs.
One of the most popular outreach programs is a training tour with railroad companies and tank trailer carriers participating. The object of each tour is to prepare communities for hazmat transportation incidents that might occur along the routes. Union Pacific Railroad and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad were sponsors of the 2001 Region V tour.
TransCAER drills highlight training for emergency prepared ness. Training and drills are critical steps to prepare communities for possible hazardous materials incidents. They build first responder confidence and allow them to hone their skills, helping to assure a safe response to hazmat incidents. Drills also allow local media the chance to safely understand the complexities of a hazmat incident and why the safety of the responders and the public are first priority.
Another way TransCAER spreads its good news is by presenting annual awards to its participants for their efforts in activities, organizational commitment, financial support, and manpower investment in TransCAER. Also offered are awards to regional teams based on planning, organizational development, community interaction and events, and positive public opinion. In addition to the annual awards, the organization gives certificates throughout the year to individuals or groups for deserving activities.
As for the future, TransCAER members have developed a strategic five-year plan to expand and more effectively manage resources and utilize available technology.
For more information about TransCAER, visit its Web site at www.TransCAER.com, write to TransCAER, American Chemical Council, 1300 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22209, telephone (703) 741-5258, or visit www.TransCAER.com.
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