First responders learn how to clear highways faster, safer

Thanks to a federal program, Ohio is able to teach thousands of police, fire fighters, tow-truck operators and other emergency responders how to clear highway crash scenes faster and safer. Law Officer News reports that Ohio is one of 20 different states using the federal training program to ensure the safety of first responders and drivers.

The Federal Highway Administration has sent out trained instructors to the state of Ohio to now teach others how to improve inter-agency communications at a crash scene to get a wrecked of disabled vehicle off the highway and out of the way faster. According to the news source, the traffic incident management training attempts to decrease the time other drivers are waiting or delayed by traffic backups, the potential that a secondary collision may occur and the threat of harm to first responders.

"It's communication, cooperation and coordination," said Al Phillips, the Ohio Department of Transportation's emergency operations coordinator, according to the news source.

Delays from traffic incidents can add up and cost the state and consumers time and money. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, for each minute that a highway travel lane is blocked during peak use, an estimated 4 minutes of delay result after the incident is cleared – adding up to 4.2 billion hours per year of delays. In addition, Americans burn more than 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline each year while stuck in incident-related traffic.

Thanks to the FHA program brought to Ohio, almost 2,900 first responders from the state have been trained in the past few months, reports Law Officer News. The Ohio Department of Transportation and State Highway Patrol wish to train thousands more this year.

According to the news source, the training program teaches first responders to use their best judgment while protecting public safety. One example used by patrol Capt. Roger Hannay was that if a wrecked truck was blocking traffic it would be up to the first responders to determine whether it would be best to clear the truck to the side and leave it there until later or to continue to block traffic and remove the vehicle.

"The more we can keep highways operating efficiently and safely, the better," Doug Hecox, a highway administration spokesman, told the news source. "Nobody likes traffic jams."

Hannay has stated that he believes the training is re-energizing Ohio's crash-management program, which was initially launched over 10 years ago, but has since been left largely alone.

Training is a crucial component to first responders' abilities to effectively gain control over a scene. Programs like these allow law enforcement and public safety professionals keep every one as safe as possible, while remaining protected themselves. By effectively implementing the right programs and compliance software, agencies and departments are better able to direct officers, fire fighters and other workers to the task they are best suited and trained for in these situations and others.

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2013-06-30T13:17:47+00:00 May 31st, 2013|Law Enforcement, Public Safety|