TANK TRUCK carriers are encouraged to participate in the Operation Respond Emergency Information System (OREIS) as part of an ongoing effort to coordinate industry and public resources needed to handle hazardous materials, said Paul Bomgardner, hazardous materials policy director for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Alexandria, Virginia.
So far, tank truck carriers have shown little interest in using the computerized system that links companies involved in the shipment of hazardous materials with emergency responders, he said. "It is a big program with the railroads," Bomgardner noted. "They are way ahead of us. And, the program is being used more and more by the emergency response community. All a carrier has to do is to bring the company's systems up to date."
The computer program was developed by Operation Respond Institute, a public/private partnership supported by the ATA and dedicated to improving emergency response.
Bomgardner said only one motor carrier is currently using the program despite many advantages. "You don't pay for OREIS. The people who pay for the system are the emergency responders. It is another tool that can be used in emergency response."
He urged carriers to be more proactive in preparing for emergencies. He pointed out that responders are prohibited from approaching an overturned truck until they know what product is being carried. If they can't approach the vehicle, can't read a company name on the side, can't identify the product, and/or can't find the driver, the responders lose valuable time in beginning the emergency procedures.
"I'm here pleading and begging that you consider becoming more proactive in the emergency response program," Bomgardner said.
The computer system requires access to a company's system, but only trailer and product information will be listed. "That's as far as it needs to go," he said, referring to concerns that might arise about access to a company's privileged information.