east palestine train toxic cloud

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‘They’re at war with us’: A free ID program for senior citizens puts East Palestine firefighters in crosshairs of train derailment conspiracy theorists

The Fire Chief who first advocated for the program shot down conspiratorial claims.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Feb 20, 2023

Conspiracy theorists are claiming that a recently launched medical ID program in East Palestine, Ohio, proves that the recent train derailment was a “false flag” or a government plot to track citizens.

After a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed on Feb. 3, a controlled burn of several railcars days later led to the spread of chemicals throughout the town. With state officials slow to update the public, panic filled the information void.

While some local citizens tried to document real, serious concerns, conspiracy theorists also latched on.

Now, a medical ID program introduced in East Palestine last year is being cited as evidence that the derailment was a purposeful act on behalf of the government. The program, which uses the service known as MyID, lets local residents purchase everything from bracelets, tags, stickers, and wallet cards with unique QR codes that hold their personal medical information.

The program, which was suggested by East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick, is aimed specifically at aiding emergency services in providing timely medical care to the community.

Speaking with local media in mid-October, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway hailed the program, which is entirely optional, as a major benefit to the area’s elderly population.

“I think it’s a very good system,” Conaway told the Morning Journal at the time. “We have a lot of elderly people in our community and I think it would be very beneficial to our EMS responders that they can quickly pull all of the pertinent information up.”

Despite the relatively low-tech option being identical to countless others, such as those offered on smartphones and other wearable devices, conspiracy theorists have suggested that derailment was part of some type of sinister plot to make local residents accept the medical program.


The claim also went viral on the r/conspiracy subreddit, where countless users blamed the government as well as secret societies.

“Manufactured dependence. Cause a massive disaster, so that everyone will look to government for help,” one commenter wrote. “They are losing the plot. More people need to realize they need us more than we need them.”

Videos on the issue have also popped up on sites such as YouTube and TikTok.

@amanda_ttok They’re not going to stop until we’re all tagged like animals 🐑 🏷️ 😭 Why don’t people see what’s happening??? 🥺😣 #eastpalenstine #myid #medicalid #incaseofemergency #tagged #planned #bidensamerica #fyp ♬ I Got 5 On It – Tethered Mix from US – Michael Abels & Luniz

One user argued that the land was purposely poisoned in order to allow the United Nations to seize the land.

“AGENDA 2030! Any land deemed toxic can be seized by the government and turned into a 15-minute city,” one Twitter user said of the video. “So now, besides having residents use MyID, this pops up, too. It was all planned!!! They, Norfolk and the Government, are in on it together. Why is Biden not helping? That’s why!”

But as reported in October, the city’s fire chief noted that he came up with the idea after the medical ID system was used at his previous firefighting job in South Carolina.

Speaking with the Daily Dot, Drabick stated that no connection exists between the derailment and the program.

“Any relation between the MyID program and the derailment is nothing more than a conspiracy theory,” he said.

Although the suggestion that a small city government in Ohio was somehow involved in a train derailment for simply implementing a voluntary system that gives medical workers the ability to check which medications an individual takes may seem ludicrous to some, conspiracy theorists are convinced that they’ve uncovered unprecedented wrongdoing.

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*First Published: Feb 20, 2023, 3:23 pm CST