Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Emergency Management & Homeland Security


Emergency Management


College of Engineering & Applied Science

Committee Chair

Dr. Sandy Smith

Second Committee Member

Dr. Caroline Hackerott

Third Committee Member

Dr. Larry Porter

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Mary B. Gunter


Derailments of freight trains carrying bulk cargo are not a new phenomenon in the United States; they have occurred since the 19th century when the first shipment made its way across the nation. However, despite sweeping changes in the past decade to the structure of emergency management in the United States, how the railroads have responded to derailments has not changed. The railroad culture is to operate lean, meaning few people are needed to transport large quantities of cargos and commodities. When a derailment occurs, the culture does not change, and railroads respond with typically few of their own personnel to oversee response operations. The slowness with which railroads have acted to adopt the National Incident Management System (NIMS) / Incident Command System (ICS) had not become a concern until recently with the increasing number of crude oil derailments. As the volume of crude oil transported by rail is predicted to rise exponentially as it has over the past five years, the need to assess the suitability of NIMS/ICS for derailments becomes even stronger. This paper addresses the incidentand organizational-specific characteristics found by researchers to support the use of NIMS/ICS in planning and response operations and how those characteristics compare with those found in Class I railroads and bulk crude oil derailment response operations. By understanding these differences and the gaps they create, the railroads and governmental organizations may be able to bridge those gaps more collaboratively and effectively