Montana Operation Lifesaver (MTOLI) is a free public service education program dedicated to preventing and reducing fatalities and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights-of-way. We educate the public on highway-rail grade crossing safety and provide vital information about the dangers encountered when people trespass on railroad property. We also get involved with the law enforcement community in an effort to reduce grade crossing and trespass incidents.
MTOLI is part of a national program known as OLI. Both MTOLI and OLI are non-profit organizations. OLI is a non-profit, international continuing public education program first established in 1972 to end collisions, deaths and injuries at places where roadways cross train tracks, and on railroad rights-of-way. OLI programs are sponsored cooperatively by federal, state, and local government agencies; highway safety organizations, and the nation’s railroads.
HISTORY OF OPERATION LIFESAVER
OLI 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 OLI: the Railway Progress Institute, Amtrak and the Association of American Railroads continue to serve on OLI's 11 member Board of Directors
HISTORY OF MONTANA OPERATION LIFESAVER
MTOLI was created and joined OLI in 1989. Its base of operation is located in the city of Whitefish, Montana. Richard Flink was the first State Coordinator and remained in this position until the fall of 2007 when he announced his retirement.
January 1st 2008 Clark Wheeler of Whitefish, was appointed by the board of MTOLI as the new State Coordinator. Working closely with the board and their mission statement, MTOLI is moving toward the future with an aggressive presentation and safety training program.
Today, and into the future, working closely with the states railroads, MTOLI will continue its excellent and effective role as the railroad safety advocate for the state of Montana.