With millions of passengers travelling on trains and through railway stations every day in the Netherlands, there's always a high chance train or station staff will be called on in an emergency.
Medical episodes, including passengers suddenly being taken ill, are very common. However, railway staff need to be prepared for more complex, and even dangerous, situations. A terrorist incident at Amsterdam Centraal Station in August 2018 that resulted in two tourists being stabbed by a man who was quickly shot and stopped by police - all within the space of nine seconds, highlights the degree of preparedness required of railway employees who often work with the police to evacuate stations.
For NS, it is essential that their employees know how to respond in a variety of emergency scenarios to keep passengers and themselves safe, so they teamed up with G4S - the Netherland’s leading safety training provider - to design and deliver tailor-made training courses, unique to each job role.
Pauline van den Driessche, G4S Training Advisor, says:
"It is very difficult to respond to emergencies quickly and correctly if you haven’t had the appropriate training.
"For Nederlandse Spoorwegen which has thousands of staff carrying out a wide variety of roles on trains, in stations, workshops and offices - each with unique risks, you can’t offer one style of training to everyone. They have very different needs so we design each course specifically for the role in question."
The rail company's Emergency Response Coordinator, Jacqueline van der Laan, describes NS as a "large and complex organisation", before adding:
"The size of the assignment, the planning and the complexity of NS as an organisation are all considerable challenges but G4S has shown that they can handle it".
Employees receive training throughout the year at different locations across the Netherlands. A G4S training advisor spent a long time with various teams to get a clear picture of the training that the different target groups would need, including first aid, fire fighting and evacuation. Some employees also receive further specific training based on G4S’s assessment of their working location.
Van der Laan elaborates:
"The biggest challenge for us at NS had been planning all the courses.
"It is a major task affecting so many people, but now all we have to do is provide a schedule and G4S does the rest. They know our employees, and put forward real-life and relevant examples that they can relate to.
"We determine the learning objectives ourselves” said Marisha de Jong, Training Manager for NS, “We then give those objectives to G4S who draw up the curriculum, based on the time they have spent with our different teams and their observations. These training courses are very important, because if you do not pass them you are not allowed to start working."
Pauline van den Driessche adds:
"We have a lot of experience in delivering a wide range of tailored training options for organisations of all shapes and sizes. Around 100,000 people a year in the Netherlands benefit from G4S safety training courses, so we know how to identify unique risks and make sure that people get the specific training they need."