OREIS communications system receives joint backing

OREIS communications system receives joint backing

Operation Respond Emergency Information System (OREIS), a communications system used during incidents involving hazardous materials and passenger train accidents, has received the backing of the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). The organizations will join forces to promote the system throughout the nation.

Using OREIS will enable firefighters to identify materials involved in rail accidents. It connects fire departments at the scene of a hazardous-materials incident with databases of railroad and motor carriers. Firefighters can obtain the chemical name of the substances in the car or trailer in less than one minute. Along with the chemical`s name, firefighters will receive instructions for evacuation, personal protection, and other strategic concerns. OREIS also contains schematics of all Amtrak locomotives and passenger cars. The diagrams highlight emergency exits and windows, electrical switches, fuel sources, and seat configuration. The system`s use, say the IAFC and the IAFF, should be “as universal among public safety agencies as radios.”

“Our goal is to improve the availability of information on hazardous-material accidents for the incident commanders,” explains IAFC President Rich Marinucci. “We are glad to support OREIS, as it certainly complements CHEMTRECT, the system most fire officials are familiar with.”

“Pilot programs have proven that OREIS works,” says IAFF General President Alfred K. Whitehead. The IAFF notes that a half million hazardous-materials shipments pass through American communities every day. The current system of identifying the contents of these shipments with placards and paper manifests, which often are destroyed in an emergency, is frequently inaccurate.

Firefighters in 28 states, Mexico, and Canada already have access to OREIS. The system was used successfully in several potential transportation emergencies and was an important safety feature at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Seventeen railroads and motor carriers already participate in the program.

The CFSI has agreed to call on Congress and the Department of Transportation to ask for increased funding for the developer of OREIS, Operation Respond Institute, the not-for-profit coalition of emergency personnel, railroad, and motor carriers, funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and participating carriers. Commuter railroads nationwide are expected to work with Operation Respond.

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