Hazardous Materials:

Federal Training for First Responders to Highway and Railroad Incidents

RCED-89-146FS: Published: May 26, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on federal provision of training to state and local personnel who first respond to highway and rail accidents involving hazardous materials.

GAO found that five federal agencies offered diverse approaches to meet the high demand for training of state and local first responders, with: (1) individual agencies' fiscal year (FY) 1988 training expenditures ranging from $307,000 to $2.14 million and expenditures across agencies totalling about $5.04 million; (2) activities including instructor training courses, teleconferences, videotape development and dissemination, and grants to states and nonprofit institutions; (3) activities covering such topics as federal regulations, incident response management structures, identification of hazardous materials, toxicology, health and safety protection, and response equipment; (4) the Federal Emergency Management Agency training about 87,700 first responders and instructors during FY 1987 and FY 1988; (5) the Environmental Protection Agency training about 3,900 first responders during FY 1987 and FY 1988; (6) the Department of Transportation training about 5,580 first responders during FY 1987 and FY 1988 and funding state programs for training first responders; (7) the Department of Energy training about 2,540 first responders during FY 1987 and FY 1988; (8) the Department of Health and Human Services training about 5,590 first responders during FY 1988; and (9) some of the agencies reporting that budget constraints made it difficult for them to meet the demand for such training.

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