Norfolk Southern is expanding an app that is supposed to help alleviate confusion in the case of a rail emergency.

It's called the 'Ask Rail,' app and it's a critical information tool that only first responders had access to.

With the new upgrade, dispatchers can now access the app from their desktops and work behind the scenes to quickly notify first responders where exactly a rail car is having trouble, as well as what's in it.

"You can also pull up everything on that train, so you know all the contents you're dealing with, not just that car," said Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughlin.

This tool is being used at all five 911 dispatch centers in Columbiana County. The information can be sent out from dispatchers while first responders are on scene or en route, so instead of first responders identifying the problem when they arrive, all they'll have to do is solve it. 

"It would've greatly assisted us in February when we had our incident here," said Sheriff McLaughlin about the train derailment. "It would've brought to light everything that especially the fire side was dealing with a lot quicker," he said.

The app is only for first responders and dispatchers, it also gives instruction on how to best handle another situation like the derailment.

"When first responders are responding, when they know what they're responding to, what steps they're going to need to take and even plug in an address to create a small evacuation zone, that's how they're gonna help keep the residents safe," said Connor Spielmaker, Senior Communications Manager with Norfolk Southern.

The app does not, however, alert of issues with rail cars as they happen but only after they've occurred.