SPECIAL REPORT: First Observer marks Sept. 11 with training for truckers

| 9/10/2009

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009 -- Truckers and others with web access have a new opportunity to learn about a new program that aims to help stop future terrorism and crime activities.

On Friday, Sept. 11, the First Observer trucking security program will host multiple webinars to train truck drivers on how to observe, assess and report potential criminal activity.

To register or learn more, visit www.firstobserver911.com.

OOIDA is a subcontractor for First Observer – the Transportation Security Administration’s trucking security program. First Observer aims to develop training modules for highway professionals, train them for anti-terrorism and security preparedness, and receive information from those drivers.

OOIDA member Paul Yurkovac, an experienced port truck driver who now works for the Owner Operators Coalition of Virginia, said he learned about several items to watch for while training to be a First Observer.

“The training modules do a good job of allowing you to see real world applications,” Yurkovac said.

Yurkovac said he learned that in the days leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 there were several occasions where motorists noticed strange activity, but didn’t have a way to easily communicate their observations other than by calling 9-1-1.

First Observer intends to gather information from commercial vehicle drivers and relay that information to appropriate authorities.

The First Observer program is run by HMS Co. under a contract funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. First Observer has a staffed call center in the DC area, which is trained to gather pertinent information from trucking professionals.

OOIDA will provide training and outreach to its nearly 160,000 membership of small-business and professional truckers. Other subcontractors under HMS Co. include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Total Security Services International Inc., and Patton Boggs LLP.
If you have access to a computer, the best way to register as a First Observer is to go to the Web site, www.firstobserver.com. If you don’t have access, call the 24/7 number at 888-217-5902, and an operator will help you register.

Besides training truck drivers, First Observer also offers training for commercial drivers who drive school buses and other buses.

By Charlie Morasch, staff writer