Meet Rail Safety Ambassador Cathy Law

Cathy Law knows all too well the tragic consequences that can occur when people trespass on railway tracks. For 28 years, her husband has been an inspector with the Canadian Pacific Railway police services division in the Greater Toronto Area.

That is why, when she saw Operation Lifesaver’s call for Canadians to help stop rail incidents from happening, Law immediately stepped up. She signed up as an online Rail Safety Ambassador shortly after the program was launched in April. She’s now one of hundreds of Rail Safety Ambassadors across the country who are spreading the rail safety message online and in their communities. She spoke to Operation Lifesaver about why she feels so strongly about this cause.

What made you want to sign up?

For 28 years, especially the past 10 or so years, there have been those phone calls that come in in the middle of the night, where you find out that somebody has been injured in a collision with a train. I want to get the message out to people that it’s really important to stay off the tracks. These phone calls in the middle of the night, my husband has to get up and deal with them, and I kind of do, too. There are all sorts of people who are impacted by these situations: the staff on the train, the first responders, the communication centre that has to field inquiries.

As the wife of somebody who gets called to the scene of an incident, how do these incidents affect someone like your husband?

It takes a toll. It doesn’t matter the age of the person. It’s always another tragedy that could have been prevented.

When that phone rings in the middle of the night, what goes through your mind?

“Here we go again…” Sometimes it's one o’clock, two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning. Whatever time it is, you are slowly waking up and you can kind of hear what the communications person is saying. That’s when I know it’s really serious and my husband has to get up out of bed. And I know he’s going to be out the rest of the night dealing with this.

What rail safety tips would you personally like people to understand?

Train tracks are made for trains—not for people, not for cars. The tracks have been there for 100 and some odd years or whatnot, and people have to learn that tracks are not something they can be on—whether the tracks look abandoned or a train comes through all the time. People are always trying to take shortcuts, but you can’t take shortcuts using train tracks.

What do you hope to accomplish by becoming a Rail Safety Ambassador?

I hope to help reduce the number of calls, of fatalities, of injuries. And I hope that the officers—whether they’re with CP or CN, Metrolinx, any of those agencies—can just continue to do their jobs, spreading the safety message, and not having to deal with so many injuries and fatalities.

Please consider becoming a Rail Safety Ambassador. Help us save lives.