How first responders assist the TSB

**** Information via Transportation Safety Board

The first persons arriving at an accident site can render valuable assistance to minimize injury and loss of life, reduce property loss through damage and fire, and prevent loss of clues and evidence as to the factors that contributed to the accident. Often, emergency services, police, fire departments, and ambulances are the first trained personnel (first responders) to be deployed to transportation accident sites.

When an accident or incident occurs, the TSB may send a team of investigators to the site. An investigator-in-charge (IIC) will lead this team. The size of the team will depend on the occurrence type and complexity. Dispatch and travel to the site can take time, depending on the distance from the Transportation Safety Board office responding to the occurrence. The IIC will liaise with first responders to indicate the IIC’s intentions and to ensure appropriate steps are taken to control access to the site and to preserve evidence.

The following summarizes actions by first responders in support of TSB’s investigation:

  • To the extent possible and consistent with priorities regarding the preservation of life and preventing further damage, every step should be taken to preserve evidence, to prevent the wreckage and debris from being disturbed or tampered with, and to document through photography or any other means any evidence of transitory nature, such as ice or soot deposits.
  • Local police and emergency response crews should secure the site; establish a safe zone; evacuate the area, as required; cordon off the accident site, including as much of the wreckage area as possible; provide emergency services and traffic control; and, restrict access to the site by media, bystanders and unnecessary company and other personnel.
  • Local authorities should record the names and contact information of all witnesses whose testimony may aid in the investigation.
  • The transportation operator involved (that is, airline, marine company, pipeline company, rail company, etc.) should be contacted for assistance in identifying any hazardous goods and dealing with hazards specific to those goods.
  • The Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC) should be contacted if hazardous goods are involved (613-996-6666).
  • Any media questions about the investigation should be referred to the TSB media coordinator (819-994-8053), or to the IIC or his/her designated representative.

The following summarizes actions by the TSB team after it arrives at the accident site:

  • The IIC or his/her designated representative will contact the agency in charge of the site and obtain a briefing on the status of the emergency operations, as well as on hazards and dangerous goods identified.
  • Before initiating investigation activities at the site, the IIC will, in consultation with the other agencies involved, ensure the site is inspected and made safe to the extent possible.
  • The TSB IIC will decide which sections of the site will be under the authority of the TSB and will communicate this decision to the agency in charge of the site.
  • As part of the investigation, the IIC may interview first responders to determine their activities during the response and their recollections of the site and emergency activities.

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