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Life-saving Lessons: Metra hosts online train safety seminar

(January 9, 2015) - 

Metra will conduct the first ever live Internet video stream of its Operation Lifesaver rail safety training presentation at Tinley Park High School on January 15, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Students from the high school’s driver's education program will participate in the live event, along with special guests Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Mark Kalina, Jr. a train accident survivor.

The Operation Lifesaver rail safety training will be streamed live and made available on Metra's YouTube channel www.YouTube.com/Metra. The training video will also be available online for future on-demand viewing. The agency hopes to reach one million students this year with its rail safety education and outreach program. This live broadcast builds on the more than 950 face-to-face, classroom-based Operation Lifesaver presentations the agency does at schools from pre-school through 12th grade each year.

About 80 people are killed on or near railroad tracks each year in Illinois – impacting thousands of lives and communities.

“Clearly, we want the message of railroad safety to get out to as many people as possible,” Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno said. “We wanted to make our rail safety training program available to as many young people as possible.  The rail safety concepts we have adopted and use to educate children and adults are drawn from the national Operation Lifesaver Rail Safety Education Program.”

“I am pleased to be a part of this webinar on railroad safety and thank Metra and its Operation Lifesaver program for this educational initiative,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “My mission is to keep the roads of Illinois the safest ever and that means making sure our drivers and pedestrians, especially teens, understand the rules of the road when it comes to railroad crossings.”

During the 55-minute presentation, students will hear a firsthand account of the dangers of trespassing on railroad property from Mark Kalina Jr. who Mark Kalina Jr. was involved in a pedestrian-train accident in October 2012 in which he became a bilateral amputee.whowho was involved in a pedestrian-train accident in Ohio, in October 2012. The accident took both of his legs. 

“Using railroad tracks as a shortcut is not worth it at all,” Kalina said. “Because maybe you get free and clear one time, two times, or a thousand times, but then there’s just this one time, that will change your life…or it can kill you.”

Kalina has referred to his situation as “not life-ending, but life-changing.” He has traveled throughout the Unites States promoting rail safety and is committed to helping victims of traumatic injury through his foundation, The Mark Kalina Jr. Foundation.

Metra’s Operation Lifesaver rail safety education program focuses on three areas of train safety: Education, Engineering and Enforcement. The education component focuses on teaching people of all ages the dangers of disobeying grade crossing warning devices, and trespassing on the railroad right-of-way, while improving motorists' and pedestrians' behavior around railroad tracks. Metra operates nearly 4,000 trains every week in the six-county region of Northeast Illinois.

“Education is by far the most important thing we can do,” Metra Safety Director Hilary Konzcal said.  “We constantly drive home the message that trains cannot stop quickly. Never underestimate a train's speed and distance.”

Larry Green and Tom Donegan, deliver Metra's Operation Lifesaver presentation to over 950 to schools, driver education programs, community organizations and first responders every year.  Participants are taught to look both ways and listen for bells and horns when crossing tracks. The presentations are tailored for their audience.

In September, Metra announced the theme of this year's ninth annual Safety Poster and Essay contest: “Unplug for Safety: Look, Listen Live.” The theme addresses electronic distractions and their impact on rail safety.

The contest is open to all students in grades K through 12 living or attending school in the railroad’s six-county service area. For more information about the contest rules and guidelines, as well as downloadable entry forms, logos, and poster templates, go to the contest website www.metracontest.com. The deadline for all entries is Jan. 30, 2015.

The Operation Lifesaver event will be streamed live from Tinley Park High School, 6111 175th St, Tinley Park, IL at 10:00 a.m. on Metra’s YouTube channel at: www.YouTube.com/Metra. Additional safety videos can also be found on the Metra channel.

More information about the live stream event can be found athttp://metrarail.com/youtubesafetytraining.  Media coverage is welcome.

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