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Developing Online Rail Incident Training for Amtrak Station Personnel

Tetra Tech developed online training for staff employed at the 250 stations across the Amtrak system
Tetra Tech supported the development and nationwide implementation of the Station Incident Preparedness Program (SIPP) through designing 37 workshops with online training to prepare station personnel to respond to rail incidents.

The 2008 Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act (Act) requires that Amtrak provide family assistance services following a derailment that causes injuries or loss of life. Tetra Tech developed the SIPP for Amtrak station personnel to outline their roles in operating a temporary Friends and Relatives Center (FRC) for affected customers, crew members, and their loved ones until a long-term Family Assistance Center is opened. The program provides station personnel with the knowledge of how to plan for, set up, operate, and demobilize an FRC for up to 12 hours following a derailment. The program is one of the first Amtrak emergency preparedness programs directed at station-based employees regarding their roles and responsibilities under the Act.


  • Response plan review
  • Workshop facilitation
  • Tabletop exercise
  • Online training
  • Guidance development

In developing the program, Tetra Tech reviewed Amtrak’s emergency response plans and developed a facilitated workshop, accompanied by a modified tabletop exercise. The workshop provides attendees with an overview of Amtrak’s legal responsibilities in providing family assistance, identifies the role of station personnel in providing family assistance until the incident response team arrives on the scene, and empowers station personnel to make the necessary decisions that are in the best interest of customers, crew members, and loved ones while operating the FRC.

The modified tabletop exercise provides attendees with a scenario in which a station needed to operate an FRC, and addressed where they would set up the operation, who would be assigned critical roles and responsibilities, and how they would engage Amtrak resources, as well as interact with local first responders and the American Red Cross. Tetra Tech developed participant and facilitator handbooks to support the workshop, which was presented by Amtrak and Tetra Tech at 37 stations across the United States.

Tetra Tech also developed online training for staff employed at Amtrak’s 250 stations in the United States. The course provides information to employees who are not regularly involved in incident response and empowers them to make the decisions necessary to provide the highest level of care and support following a serious passenger rail incident. At the end of the course, participants will:

  • Understand Amtrak’s responsibilities in providing family assistance support
  • Have a broad understanding of how to set up and operate an FRC
  • Be aware of the aids that are available to support them in planning for and executing an FRC operation
  • Understand that Amtrak is empowering customer service personnel to make decisions and take immediate action to take care of customers, employees, and loved ones

As designed, the course seeks to provide an overview of:

  • Family assistance operations as required under the Act and the Amtrak infrastructure developed to meet the 11 assurances in the Act
  • The types or severity of incidents that could trigger the legislation
  • How Amtrak responds to incidents and the role that stations play in opening and operating an FRC
  • The roles and responsibilities of personnel supporting an FRC and a sample of tasks they may be asked to take on during FRC operations
  • The job aids developed under the SIPP and how they can be used to help stations plan for and respond to an FRC operation, and return to normal operations following an FRC operation

Tetra Tech also developed a pre-event and post-event guidebook for station personnel. The pre-event guidebook provides an overview of the family assistance process and step-by-step actions that stations can take to operate an FRC. This guidebook serves as a refresher for the stations that participated in the workshops, or as a teaching guide for the remaining Amtrak stations. The post-event guidebook provides job action sheets, checklists, and quick reference guides that personnel can quickly access and implement when activated to operate an FRC. The guidebook is accompanied by a list of forms and documents that can be used to support registration, financial and activity tracking, and other activities. The job aids were distributed to all staffed Amtrak stations across the United States as a part of a family assistance response kit.

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