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Transportation Accident


Guidelines for Incident Command

  1. Establish Incident Command System (OSHA).

  2. Approach site with caution.
    Position personnel, vehicles, and command post at a safe distance upwind and uphill of the site, if possible.

  3. Ensure safety of responders.
    • Identify all hazards (danger of fire, explosion, toxic fumes, electrical hazards, structural collapse, etc.).
    • Identify cargo.
    • Obtain information concerning the cargo from placards, labels, shipping documents, and other immediately available sources.
    • Consult Emergency Response Guidebook (PDF - 4.7 MB) (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, Department of Transportation, 2016). (Online version at Transport Canada) (Mobile apps)
    • Consult NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards for symptoms, measurement methods, and PPE recommendations.
    • Keep upwind of smoke, fumes, etc.
    • Follow usual protocols for respiratory protection, use of protective clothing, and turnout gear.
    • Monitor changing conditions that could create hazardous situations.

  4. Locate victims and facilitate extrication, emergency care, and transportation of the injured, following EMS guidelines.

  5. Communications
    • Notify hospital of possible contamination/exposure of victim.

  6. Establish a control zone.
    • Reroute traffic.
    • Mark controlled area by use of ropes or tapes.
    • Limit entry to rescue personnel only.
    • Order evacuation or sheltering as needed.

  7. Prevent/fight fires as if toxic chemicals are involved.

  8. Ensure protection and contamination control.
    • Do not allow eating, drinking, smoking, or other activities within contaminated areas that might lead to intake of hazardous material.
    • Avoid direct contact with hazardous materials where possible.
    • Utilize protective clothing and anything available for remote handling (shovels, branches, ropes, etc.).
    • Evacuate personnel from the immediate downwind area.
    • Remove protective gear/clothing at the control line.
    • Wrap, label, and isolate all clothing, tools, etc., used in the controlled area.
    • Determine if measures are needed to contain all accident debris in the control zone until cleanup is achieved.
    • Prevent unnecessary handling of incident debris.

  9. Documentation
    • Record the names and addresses of all persons involved (including those who insist on leaving the area), rescuers, those removed for medical attention, and ambulance personnel.
    • Make detailed records of the incident. Other Resources.

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Hazard Identification

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General Guidelines for Responding to a Fire

Consult Emergency Response Guidebook (PDF - 4.7 MB) (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, Department of Transportation, 2016). (Online version at Transport Canada) (Mobile apps)

  • Some materials may react with water or water vapor in air to form a hazardous vapor.
  • Small Fires: use dry chemical, CO2, Halon, water spray, or regular foam.
    Large Fires: use water spray, fog, or regular foam.
  • Move undamaged containers from fire area if you can do it without risk. Do not touch damaged containers.
  • Cool any containers that are exposed to flames with water from the side until well after fire is out.
  • Fight fire as if toxic chemicals are involved. To the extent possible, keep upwind and avoid smoke, fumes, gases, and dusts.
  • For massive fire in cargo area, use unmanned hose holder or monitor nozzles; if this is impossible, withdraw from area and let fire burn.
  • Stay away from ends of tanks. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from a venting safety device or if there is discoloration of tanks due to fire. Fight fires from maximum distance.
  • Delay cleanup until authority provides guidance.
  • As much as possible, form barrier to contain fire, water that may be contaminated with chemicals and/or chemicals and radioactive materials.

Use established fire-fighting procedures and protocols.

* Adapted from Emergency Response Guidebook (PDF - 4.7 MB) (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, Department of Transportation, 2016). (Online version at Transport Canada) (Mobile apps)

See also: NIOSH/WHO International Chemical Safety Cards: International Program on Chemical Safety (HHS/CDC/NIOSH)

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General Guidelines for Responding to a Spill or Leak*

Consult Emergency Response Guidebook (PDF - 4.7 MB) (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, Department of Transportation, 2016). (Online version at Transport Canada) (Mobile apps)

  • Shut off ignition sources; no flares, smoking, or flames in hazard area.
  • Keep combustibles (wood, paper, oil, etc.) away from spilled material.
  • Do not touch spilled material. Do not touch damaged containers or move anything, except to rescue people.
  • Detour pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  • Detain anyone who has been in the area of the spill or area of suspected contamination (except for victims requiring emergency medical care).
  • Delay cleanup until the authorities arrive.
  • Minimize dispersal of material (by wind, rain, etc.) by covering with a tarp, plastic sheet, etc. Tie down or use weights as necessary.
  • If a right-of-way must be cleared before emergency assistance arrives, move vehicles and debris the shortest distance required to open a pathway. Then, before permitting traffic to pass on the cleared path, spillage should be washed or wetted and swept to the edge with a minimum dispersal of wash water and spilled material.
  • If experts are not able to get to the scene within a reasonable period of time because of weather or other constraints and prompt action is required, do the following:
    • Small Spills: Cover with sand or other noncombustible absorbent material and place into containers for later disposal.
    • Large Spills: Build a dike far ahead of the spill to contain spilled material for later disposal.

*Adapted from Emergency Response Guidebook (2012 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, Department of Transportation, 2012)

See also: NIOSH/WHO International Chemical Safety Cards: International Program on Chemical Safety (HHS/CDC/NIOSH)

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Reporting A Release

  • Protect the Environment: Report Spills and Environmental Violations (EPA)
  • National Response Center (1-800-424-8802) (USCG)
    • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensations, and Liability Act requires that all releases of hazardous substances (including radionuclides) exceeding reportable quantities be reported by the responsible party to the National Response Center. Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 302 promulgates reportable quantities and reporting criteria. All the Extremely Hazardous Chemicals (EHS) that overlap with the CERCLA listed chemicals table (40 CFR Part 302.4) should be reported to NRC as well as to the LEPC and SERC.
  • For small pesticide spills or for more information, call the pesticide manufacturer or the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378
  • Incident Reporting (DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration)

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Additional Resources

  1. CHEMTREC Resources for Emergency Responders
  2. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (HHS/CDC/NIOSH)
  3. NIOSH/WHO International Chemical Safety Cards: International Program on Chemical Safety (HHS/CDC/NIOSH)

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