With millions of passengers travelling on trains and through railway stations every day in the Netherlands, the chance that an employee of railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) will have to respond to an emergency situation is high.

Medical emergencies due to sudden illness are most common, but staffers need to be prepared for more complex, and even dangerous, situations. A terrorist incident at Amsterdam Centraal Station last August, in which two tourists were stabbed by a man who was quickly shot and stopped by police - all within nine seconds - highlights what could happen. In one moment, railway staff needed to provide emergency medical assistance, support police and safely manage a station evacuation.

The scope and complexity of safety training needed by the company – which has 10,000 employees that are trained each year on a variety of emergency procedures at different locations throughout the country – pose challenges shared by transit systems around the globe.

GS4For its employee safety training, NS turned to G4S, an international company that delivers a range of training including emergency response, first aid, fire, and specialist safety courses including maritime and professional traffic. 

A G4S training advisor spent time with various NS teams to get a clear picture of the training that the different target groups would need, including first aid, firefighting and evacuation. Some employees also receive further specific training based on G4S’s assessment of their working location. 

NS Training Manager Marisha de Jong said the company determines the learning objectives, which are then used by G4S – along with the observations gained from working with different NS teams - to develop the curriculum. Beyond the objectives, some employees also receive further specific training based on G4S’s assessment of their working location. 

“These training courses are very important, because if you do not pass them you are not allowed to start working,” said de Jong.

G4S Training Advisor Pauline van den Driessche noted that because NS staffers carry 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 size of the assignment, the planning and the complexity of NS as an organization are all considerable challenges - but G4S has shown that they can handle it” said Emergency Response Coordinator Jacqueline van der Laan.

“The biggest challenge for us at NS had been planning all the courses” said van der Laan. “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.”

G4S provides safety training courses to approximately 100,000 people a year in the Netherlands.

“We have a lot of experience in delivering a wide range of tailored training options for organizations of all shapes and sizes,” said van den Driessche.

G4S is a global integrated security company, operating in 90 countries with around 560,000 employees. G4S provides security solutions at a variety of locations around the world, including critical national infrastructure sites such as Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the UK, cricket's Indian Premier League, and demining in countries including Iraq and South Sudan. www.g4s.com/

Photos courtesy of GS4.