Assessment of emergency responders following a vinyl chloride release from a train derailment – New Jersey, 2012
Responders to a chemical release following a train derailment must immediately assess the risks by gathering information about the situation, analyzing available options, and taking action to implement decisions to protect themselves, the public, other responders, and the environment.
In December 2012, vinyl chloride was released from a breached tank car after a train derailment in New Jersey. A survey of 93 emergency responders found that 26% experienced headache and upper respiratory symptoms during the response. Only 22% reported using respiratory protection during the incident, and 23% sought medical evaluation.
Most respondents reported having received some emergency responder training and felt they had sufficient instruction, indicating a possible gap in perception of risk. In similar incidents, health officials are encouraged to implement a framework for health monitoring and surveillance of emergency responders, encourage use of respiratory protection until engineering controls and work practices can be implemented that reduce exposure to below the appropriate occupational exposure limit, and evaluate training needs for emergency response roles.
Article: Assessment of Emergency Responders After a Vinyl Chloride Release from a Train Derailment – New Jersey, 2012, Kimberly Brinker, MSN, MPH, Margaret Lumia, PhD, Karl V. Markiewicz, PhD, Mary Anne Duncan, DVM, Chad Dowell, MS, Araceli Rey, MPH, Jason Wilken, PhD, Alice Shumate, PhD, Jamille Taylor, MPH, Renée Funk, DVM, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published 9 January 2014.