Rail Awareness in Nevada

Rail Auxiliary Team Press Release

Introducing the Nation’s Premier Community-Based Rail Safety Volunteer Group: the Rail Auxiliary Team

Railway Auxiliary Team

RAT Pack Railway Auxiliary Team

Railway Auxiliary Team Training Nevada

Railway Auxiliary Team in Nevada

Help Keep Rail Roads Safe in Nevada

In emergencies, notify the railroad first, using the information on the blue Emergency Notification System signs near rail crossings, to immediately inform the railroad, and then call 911.”
— Rich Gent

FERNLEY, NEVADA, USA, February 16, 2023 / -- The Rail Auxiliary Team, affectionally known as the RAT Pack, is a group of fantastic volunteers in Nevada who work together to reduce the number of rail suicides and trespass incidents. They have been active since 2009, and are asking local veterans, retirees and retired first responders to join in their mission to save more lives on the railroad.

Established by the RailAware non-profit, and sponsored by local law enforcement, the organization provides innovative solutions for rail public safety as well as provides trained eyes and ears for local law enforcement. The Rail Auxiliary Team focuses on keeping trains moving, safe, secure and at velocity with an emphasis on preventing the trauma of rail suicides and trespass incidents.

The RAT Pack was identified as one of the few community-based rail suicide intervention programs in the
nation. Integrated into their initial training and provided by a State-sponsored suicide prevention agency, is a segment on rail-suicide intervention. This training provides the volunteers with the knowledge needed to understand and successfully intervene, as necessary, for those in crisis on or near railroads. A 2022 study by British Rail on suicide intervention, published in the Cambridge Press, cites “lay people should be encouraged to reach out to those in crisis in public places.” Members from the Rail Auxiliary are trained how to react and practice appropriate responses.

“Shortly before we set up the Rail Auxiliary Team, we saw strong evidence showing that railroad suicide and trespass incidents were on the rise.” says Rich Gent, leader of the Rail Auxiliary Team. In the last five years, there was an average of 1,000 trespass incidents per year nationwide and 200 to 300 suicides each per year ̶ existing national strategies to deal with these issues seemed ineffective. We developed the RAT Pack to take a different approach, placing sponsorship with law enforcement organizations. In 2022, the Rail Auxiliary Team reported four potential suicide incidents, locally, and over 28 reportable trespass incidents.

However, we need to expand the Rail Auxiliary concept statewide. If this had been accomplished earlier, we might not have experienced the incident that happened recently in Winnemucca, NV, which involved a car stuck on the railroad tracks. Someone called 911. When the police arrived, the driver got out. Shortly thereafter, two people exited the back seat of the car, walked directly into the path of the train, and were killed.

Part of the Rail Auxiliary Team training is to notify the railroad first, using the information on the blue Emergency Notification System signs near rail crossings, to immediately inform the railroad, and then call 911. Sadly, this emergency procedure is not publicly known, so we continue to spread the word to the community and to law enforcement personnel.

This Winnemucca incident shows that the organization is needed more than ever. But they can’t do it without the help of those called to protect and serve in Nevada. They are now appealing for more volunteers to join their group, to help them save even more lives.

Those who volunteer will receive the training needed to become a RAT Pack member, which includes suicide intervention and awareness, equipping them to help save lives on the tracks. Volunteers who join the team also engage in training scenarios in the field, in addition to follow-on activities and monthly refreshers through in-person or on-line training.

“With an understanding of the rail industry and its unique environment, our team is trained to offer a variety of solutions for both railway safety and security.” says Richard Gent.

There are many generally unknown safety procedures (like staying off of railroad property), training techniques, and other skills, that we know will save lives. If you would like to help us protect the Nevada communities, please get in touch.

The Rail Auxiliary Team currently has 120 dedicated volunteers with a passion for keeping the community safe. The team are the vital ears and eyes of local law enforcement in Nevada, and play a huge part in the prevention of tragedies on railroad property.

Mr. Rich Gent
Railway Auxiliary Team

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