“Operation Lifesaver” in USA

Operation Lifesaver started in Idaho in 1972 when the national average of collisions at highway-rail grade crossings exceeded 12,000 annually. A six-week public awareness campaign called “Operation Lifesaver” was sponsored by the office of Governor Cecil Andrus, the Idaho Peace Officers and Union Pacific railroad as a one-time, one-state initiative.

During the campaign’s first year, Idaho’s crossing-related fatalities dropped by 43 percent. The next year, the Operation Lifesaver campaign spread to Nebraska, where their collision rate was reduced by 26 percent. Kansas and Georgia experienced similar success the following year.

Between 1978 and 1986, while Operation Lifesaver operated under the auspices of the National Safety Council, all 49 continental states started independent Operation Lifesaver programs. In 1986, the national program was released from NSC and incorporated as a national, non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational organization. The founding sponsors of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), the Railway Progress Institute, Amtrak and the Association of American railroads continue to serve on OLI´s 11 member.

“Operation Lifesaver” in Europe

  • In autumn 2003 Herb Payne, Chairman of the Management Board – Managing Director of AS Eesti Raudtee, recommended Tamo Vahemets to get acquainted with railway safety project “Operation Lifesaver” in the US.
  • In March 2004 Tamo Vahemets and his wife attended a two-day “Operation Lifesaver” training in Kansas. They returned to Estonia as certified OL presenters.
  • In July 2004 Tamo Vahemets represented Estonia in international “Operation Lifesaver” symposium held in San Antonio, Texas.
  • During the symposium Tamo Vahemets was granted the authority for establishing a branch of “Operation Lifesaver” in Estonia.
  • On November 19, 2004 AS Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Raylway Ltd), Tamo Vahemets and Urve Miidla founded non-profit organization “Operation Lifesaver Estonia” (OLE) following the principles accepted by Operation Lifesaver Inc.