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

7.4 Identification of Hazardous Materials and Manifest

First responders on the scene of incidents may be unaware of hazardous materials being transported. They need to know immediately if an evacuation order needs to be issued due to the accident. For example, during the derailment of a car carrying chlorine gas, the first responders immediately start evacuating nearby residents. However, taking the time to ascertain the nature of the “spill” could impact whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place.

Operation Respond Emergency Information System (OREIS) – OREIS is a tool to assist first responders regarding the transport of hazardous materials.

As reported in the Columbus Dispatch article “Rails Bring Danger to Town, But Threat Hard to Quantify,” OREIS, created by the Operation Respond Institute, is a “computer system that allows local responders in an emergency to see a railroad company’s cargo list and identify hazardous materials by container number, trailer number, and carrier name.” Currently, the City of Columbus, Ohio, Division of Fire is equipped with this system.

According to the Operation Respond Institute press release, “OREIS is a software program that provides first responders with time and lifesaving real-time information about hazardous materials and passenger railroad incidents. OREIS transmits real-time information about the hazardous materials contents of freight railcars and motor carriers and schematics for passenger railcars and locomotives.”

The press release also reported: “In September 2004, it teamed with Qualcomm to demonstrate an emergency response system that allows emergency responders to respond more quickly and effectively to motor carrier safety and security incidents along the nation’s highways. Operation Respond is to integrate its OREIS emergency response software with Qualcomm’s OmniTRACS satellite-based mobile communications and position location system to demonstrate the ability to track the movement and contents of vehicles as they travel the highways, and provide this information to first responders in the case of an incident or security breach. Operation Respond has partnered with Emergency Services Information Network (ESINC) to allow emergency responders to quickly and accurately receive information about the presence of hazardous materials, and respond accordingly. ESINC is an electronic network of OREIS users who receive emergency messages and alerts via fax, cell phone, pager, and email.”

Transportation Security Administration Truck Security Pilot – The Transportation Security Administration is proposing to develop a pilot contract to monitor trucks in all 50 states and provide this data to governmental officials and first responders. The Administration is seeking competitive offers to develop a proposed pilot contract that “include(s) the ability to: continually track truck locations and load types in all 50 states; and develop a set of protocols capable of interfacing with existing truck tracking systems, a truck tracking center, a Government intelligence operations center, state, local and Federal law enforcement agencies, and first responders,” as reported on the Federal Business Opportunities – Transportation Security Administration Web site, under “Truck Security Pilot.”

February 7, 2006
Publication #FHWA–HOP-08-015