Manage resources to optimize incident response and clearance times to reduce the impact on traffic flow.
Experience of transportation professionals nationwide in developing successful incident management programs.
- Provide joint training among incident response agencies to improve response times and site-management. Training the responding agency personnel on a regular basis helps improve coordination, communication, and trust among agencies and other responders (e.g. safety service patrols, towing and recovery service providers, fire and rescue). Fostering these relationships improves response times and on-site management of an incident, resulting in improved clearance times. As an example, in San Antonio, at the TransGuide Center, they participate in three variations of training activities: mock incidents, tabletop exercises, and classroom workshops. Each activity is structured in such a manner as to encourage participation by each responder.(1)
- Formalize incident command protocols to ensure optimization of time and resources. The use of common terminology and technology facilitates effective and clear communications among the different responding agency personnel.
- Cultivate relationships with fire and rescue agencies when developing a coordinated multiagency traffic incident management program. Fire and rescue agencies have different priorities than transportation agencies when responding to traffic incidents. Their first concern is with the safety of the victims and motorists, and getting traffic flowing again is a secondary issue. Including fire and rescue in the planning and development of an incident management program and maintaining consistent communication will help ensure their cooperation during an incident. The traffic agency may even want to consider providing the fire and rescue agencies with an enticement, such as providing a CCTV feed for video surveillance. Goodwill gestures such as this help cultivate multiagency ties, with the traveling public reaping the benefits.
- Document incident clearance times to better understand incident clearance performance. Documentation of these events can help improve future incident clearance times.
- Conduct post-incident debriefings. An important aspect to any incident management program is conducting post-incident debriefings. Post-incident debriefings should be conducted after every major incident. Agencies can walk through the incidents and be constructive in their means to continually improve the incident management process. As an example, in Chattanooga, the Incident Commander coordinates the debriefing sessions after major incidents and a lessons learned memorandum is produced and distributed to all participating agencies.(2)
This lesson suggests that, as with many other ITS programs, effective communication is key to deploying a successful incident management program. Incident response and clearance priorities may vary depending on the agencies involved. Some agencies focus on minimizing traffic delays and preventing secondary accidents, while other agencies focus on the security of the scene and the overall safety of the incident victims and the responders. Joint training among agencies, developing common terminology, cultivating relationships among fire and rescue agencies, and conducting post incident debriefings may improve relationships and the understanding of each agency’s role in the effective clearance of an incident. This aids in making each person involved more aware of the importance to clear an incident safely and quickly. Reducing response and clearance times has a major affect on returning the roadway to full capacity, and improving safety, mobility, and efficiency.
(1) Source: NCHRP Report 520 Sharing Information between Public Safety and Transportation Agencies for Traffic Incident Management
(2) Source: Chattanooga Urban Area Highway Incident Management Plan
Author: Vincent Pearce
Published By: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration
Source Date: April 2000
EDL Number: 11484
Other Reference Number: FHWA-JPO-99-018 / FTA-TRI-11-99-09URL: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/jpodocs/repts_te/11484.pdf
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