Posner Foundation grant supports Operation Lifesaver efforts

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WASHINGTON — Operation Lifesaver, Inc. has announced what it describes as “a generous donation” from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh. The undisclosed amount will support four projects.

The grant will fund suicide prevention messages in communities identified by the Federal Railroad Administration’s Trespass and Suicide Dashboard that shows locations and trends in fatalities along railroad rights-of-way.

The funds will also pay for the distribution of a public service announcement to educate people about the blue and white Emergency Notification System signs at railroad crossings, which could save lives in a dangerous situation. Rail safety volunteer efforts and additional public education activities also benefit from the donation.

Henry Posner III, founder and chairman of the Railroad Development Corporation, stated in a press release that the Posner Foundation was proud to support the work of Operation Lifesaver.

Rachel Maleh, executive director of Operation Lifesaver, told Trains News Wire that it is “great for us to have more funding so we can have a larger impact.”

With a headquarters staff in Washington of just four, Maleh relies on a network of 46 state coordinators. “They know what works within their states,” she said. Along with volunteers, they speak to school groups and driver education classes, coordinate local advertising, and connect with communities through social media.

“Pulling our state organizations together and having them have the resources and tools that they need to execute the mission on their local level is so critical,” Maleh says. “To do that right is going to be a challenge.”

­­OLI, which began in 1972, says it has helped reduce the number of collisions between motor vehicles and trains from more than 12,000 annual incidents to about 2,100 incidents in 2017. But pedestrian fatalities on railroad property are on the rise, and growth in commuter, transit, and streetcar systems requires educating residents.

“We all know the safety message,” Maleh says, “but what we're really trying to do is change human behavior and that's not easy.” As part of the “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign, OLI is directing messages to specific demographic and age groups.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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