Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

5.14 What Worked and What Did Not Work

5.14.1 What Worked

Communication to the Public

During this incident, Reverse 911®, the media, and police officers going door to door were used to inform residents of the need to evacuate.

Cooperation of the Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific Roper Rail Yard employees assisted in the incident and provided the rail manifest to the emergency management officials. However, the initial information provided was incorrect, and the railroad staff worked to correct that information.

Development of Experience

The incident tested every entity beyond the training exercises to date. As a result, they will be better prepared for the next one.

Development of Relationships with Other Entities

Relationships have been developed over the years through training and experience; however, due to this incident, new players were involved. As a result, emergency management officials now have a person to whom they can relate.

Joint Information Center

A joint information center was established at the highway patrol dispatch center and allowed for consistent information and a unified voice in communicating on the incident. When the freeways were closed down, a press conference was set up with the fire department, the police department, and the highway patrol communicating information on the fire, evacuation, and road closures respectively.

Overall Cooperation of the Entities Involved

Entities cooperated and coordinated their efforts. The incident allowed the entities to realize that no one entity could handle the incident on its own and help was needed.

Media Web Page

The police department utilized a “FatPot” media web page that the media could log onto to find out information regarding the incident. The police department updated it as needed.

Training for a Catastrophic Event

Training exercises and drills are conducted by the various emergency management entities. To better understand rail cars and their potential for leakage, training will occur on simulated and real rail cars to allow entities to train in a safe environment regarding rail car operations.

Training of First Responders in Incident Command

First responders in South Salt Lake City are trained in incident command and have been practicing incident command for some time. As a result, incident command is established quickly when needed.

Unified Incident Command

As a result of training in incident command, a unified incident command structure is developed when applicable.

Use of the National Incident Management System

During this incident, the emergency management officials of South Salt Lake City utilized the national incident management system.

5.14.2 What Did Not Work

No Identification of All of the Chemicals Located in the Rail Car

The rail yard had the manifest of what they thought the car was carrying (sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid). The side of the rail car and the Department of Transportation placard stated sulfuric acid, but it was not until samples were taken and analysis prepared that the chemicals were identified.

Pumping of the Rail Car Before the Identification of the Chemicals

The fire department initially thought they knew what they had and started to pump out the rail car. In the process, they burned through three pumps because metal and poly fittings were being “eaten” by the chemical.

Sample Material Did Not Match the Rail Car Manifest

First responders did not have a proper idea of chemicals involved until the laboratory results were analyzed.

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014