From “Just What is a Train Dispatcher?” Copyright © 1992 Thomas A. White

Most dispatcher territories are several hundred miles in length and interruption of traffic at one location does not reduce traffic on the balance of the territory. The dispatcher must continue to handle the remaining traffic on the territory even while busy with such responsibilities as obtaining information about an accident or incident to determine the extent of the injury and damage and what personnel and equipment are needed and calling for the required emergency vehicles, supervisors and equipment. The dispatcher, through the communication system with which train movements are controlled, is also the connection to the outside world for trains and those who work on the tracks. Non-railroad problems as varied as escaped cattle, house fires, forest and grass fires, automobile accidents, sinking boats and even airplane crashes are communicated to the train dispatcher who must notify those responsible for response to the situation. When hazardous material is involved in an accident, the dispatcher must be basically familiar with the correct response procedures, be able to readily locate the correct procedures in detail and be able to communicate them to the involved train crew and to public safety agencies.

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