Two weeks ago the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department Citizen Corps graduated more than 40 volunteers who are trained on reportable situations on the railroad tracks to provide rail awareness reports to local law enforcement (who normally respond to rail trespass situations) for possible response. The 6-hour course covered topics from basic railroad operations, rail safety, worldwide rail terrorist incidents and a cutting edge topic; “Prevention of Rail Suicides in our Community.” The one-hour segment, taught by the Nevada Suicide Prevention Coordinator, covered topics of why people consider suicide, the local demographics for suicides (in this case Northern Nevada highest rate is males over 60), what to look for should they see someone by the tracks and how to report to the railroad/local law enforcement using milepost, control points or Emergency Notification Signs correlated to local community streets or landmarks.
Rail suicides are unique and as such this initiative, along with future technology such as drone integration, will determine if a reduction of suicides in the area occurs. According to recent FRA reports, the State of Nevada has a 33% rail suicide average/trespasser incidents. The was driven home as we just had a suicide incident near Las Vegas this July. We are hopeful that these initiatives will demonstrate how this training will help keep people, to include those considering suicide, off the tracks.
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