TSA to expand First Observer™ program

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

TSA is working to expand its First Observer™ national security awareness program later this fall. Under the new name of First Observer Plus™, the program will train surface transportation professionals to be alert and to observe, assess and report indicators of potential terrorist activity that may target any of the various modes of surface transportation.

Upon its launch, First Observer Plus™ will include training for operators and other frontline employees engaged in mass transit rail; transit bus; freight rail; and pipeline operations. First Observer Plus™ will also update and revise the program’s currently available training modules for highway and motor carrier operations, which include both general and hazmat trucking; school transportation operations; motor coach operations; public infrastructure workers; law enforcement; truck rental; and public/private parking operations.   

The program encourages its trained members to follow their company’s guidelines for reporting suspicious activities of a potential terroristic nature. The program trains participants to immediately call 911 in any emergency or criminal situation. When safe to do so, transportation related suspicious activities should also be reported to the TSA Operations Center using the dedicated hotline1-844-TSA-FRST, which is staffed 24/7. Those reports are reviewed and assessed by TSA personnel for follow-up actions if appropriate, and shared with other local, state and federal entities as warranted.

“The use of a hotline to report suspicious tips has proved to be critical, time and time again,” said Owner-Operators and Independent Drivers Association Director of Safety and Security Operations Doug Morris. “The gap between 911 emergencies and an eyewitness spotting possible terrorism warrants such information gathering.”

First Observer Plus™ training will include classroom training, online web-based training, train-the-trainer sessions and training updates.  All of the training modules stress the core First Observer™ message to “Observe, Assess and Report” suspicious activity.