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Bridgeport Emergency Reach Out Program Focuses on Rail Safety for Residents

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Bridgeport kicked off its Emergency Reach Out series on Wednesday night, with the help of CSX officials, who were on a mission to educate residents about rail safety.

Every three hours, a person or vehicle is struck by a train. That's according to Operation Lifesaver, who is teaming up with the city of Bridgeport to keep residents off the tracks.

"We have the two crossings that literally split the city in half, and if we do have a catastrophic event that would cut off traffic and resources, so we have to be prepared for that," said PFC C.B. Sayers of the Bridgeport Police Department.

It can happen anywhere and anytime; for us, as recently as October in Randolph County, when a log truck collided with a tourist train, killing one and injuring more than two dozen people.

"We're always looking for new information and new tools to help us do our jobs safely and better," said Sayers.

So on Wednesday night, CSX officials faced the possibilities of train accidents head-on as they shared some little-known facts with the public, like many trains not running on set schedules, and more.

"You cannot walk on the lines, that's trespassing. Things that we can do here and not do when we're driving down Main Street and different areas to make sure that we stay safe," said Shauna Rauch, director of emergency services in Bridgeport.

Many of those in attendance could recall such tragedies in Bridgeport.

"After a parade one day, there were a couple of boys walking along the side of the tracks, and a train came up on them, and they assumed they were far enough away, but they weren't, and one of them was killed," said Officer Kerry Hess of the Bridgeport VIPS.

"My grandmother told me that, way before I was ever born, a homeless man, or a man who was sleeping on the tracks, passed out or something and actually got ran over by the train," said resident Oliver Davidson.

These memories serve as a solemn reminder to residents that anything can happen if you don't take the necessary precautions.

"I just need to be one more car in there, and all of a sudden, we become in the path of that train," said Rauch.

The city has other Emergency Reach Out events scheduled for 2014. They are as follows: 

April 1: Prepare-Train-Volunteer program at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers

May 6: Kid's Day/FBI Fingerprinting at 6 p.m. at the city park

June 3: "Be a Force of Nature" at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers

July 1: Focus on Your Health/CPR First Aid at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers

August 5: Back-to-School Safety at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers

September 13: Family Safety and Preparedness Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bridgeport Conference Center

October 7: Fire Safety-Extinguisher Training at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers