When we think about transportation, many of us think about the passenger vehicles we ride in— buses, cars, airplanes, and trains. But at the Department of Transportation, we also oversee the safe shipment of important goods like gasoline and diesel, hazardous materials that travel across the country in a network of pipelines before powering the vehicles we use to get where we need to go.
Each day, there are nearly 1 million hazmat shipments across America. The safety record for these shipments is good, but unfortunately, accidents occasionally happen. And when they do, the first 30 minutes are critical for quickly and safely containing hazardous materials.
That’s why our Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration distributes an updated Emergency Response Guidebook to our nation’s first responders every four years. And this year, we’re releasing free apps for iPhone and Android, making the ERG more accessible than it’s ever been.
Last May, PHMSA, distributed more than 2 million free hardcopies of the 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook to firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers. The mobile app will put this on-the-scene resource in the hands of even more first responders, making it easier for them to quickly look up the information they need, even at night when a hardcopy could be tough to read.
For years, first responders and local officials have used the ERG as a go-to manual for identifying specific hazmat risks, steps they should take to protect themselves, and procedures for containing the incident as quickly and safely as possible.
For example, at the scene of an overturned tractor trailer, first responders would use the ERG to identify the material associated with the truck’s displayed placard and to learn how to respond accordingly to manage that substance.
Not only does the ERG protect the general public and our environment, but it also protects our front-line responders. From rescuing people during and after large-scale emergencies like Sandy to managing traffic at a local accident scene, these men and women take risks every day to keep us safe.
We owe them our gratitude, and we at DOT will continue to make sure that they have the tools they need to prepare for all kinds of events, including hazmat incidents requiring special precautions.
The new mobile ERG app is another demonstration of that commitment, and if you're a first responder, I encourage you to download it today!
First responders can even offer their feedback by sending a note to ERG2012@dot.gov, so let us know if you like what you see or have any suggestions.