TSA's First Observer Program Returns

The Transportation Security Administration has relaunched the First Observer program after the counter-terrorism training and reporting tool for commercial drivers went on hiatus for the better part of two years.

TSA's Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement, Surface Division announced the latest "Web-based restoration" in an email Thursday. TSA spokesman Ken Ward said the official TSA website will provide end-user access to all First Observer training videos that have been updated with new and corrected call-center information. The training videos are also accessible to people with disabilities and include learning objectives as well as key learning points.

School Transportation is one of nine transportation modes with new training modules. The School Bus Training module provides knowledge on whom terrorists are and the types of targets they might have, along with what to look for and how to report it. The course instructor is Jeff Beatty, a former Delta Force officer in the U.S. Army and special agent in the FBI advising its National Hostage Rescue Team and CIA counterterrorism office in the Middle East.

Ward noted all Americans are potential victims of terrorism, so it's important for everyone to do their part in combatting the illegal activity. For student transporters, this entails observing, assessing and reporting potential threats and whatever "just doesn't look right."

After viewing the videos, student transporters can print a Certificate of Completion.

Other online First Observer training modules cover: Over-the-Road Bus Operations (Modules for Drivers, Maintenance, Crisis Response, Management, and Terminals); HazMat Trucking; General Trucking; Critical Infrastructure/Highway Workers; Parking Operations; Truck Rental; Law Enforcement; and Cargo Handlers.

The videos will remain online as TSA rolls out "a completely new and expanded First Observer," explained Ward, that will continue with the "observe, assess and report" message but will also evolve into additional surface transportation modes, such as mass transit, passenger rail, freight rail and pipeline. He also said production would begin on new videos for all surface transportation modes, including training guidance, information and record management capabilities, and a comprehensive, in-person, train-the-trainer instructional component.

The first phase of the expanded First Observer is expected by the end of 2015, Ward added.