Making Things Safer at the Scene of a Traffic Incident

TIM Logo.2

At the end of June I was fortunate enough to attend the train-the-trainer program at the National Emergency Training Center at the National Fire Academy for the National Traffic Incident Management program. That’s a lot of nationals in one sentence! And that’s the idea of this program. One, unified approach to how we as emergency responders deal with traffic incidents no matter if you’re in Washington state, Oklahoma or Maine. The goal is to enhance responder safety by teaching the participant the major factors and causal affects of injury and fatality secondary accidents while operating at the scene of an incident on the roadway. This class is targeted at police officers, firefighters, EMS, dispatchers and towing professionals all across the country in order to give everyone the tools they need to operate in a more safe manner on any type of roadway, not just Interstates or super-highways.

Three injury crashes occur every minute in the United States, putting police, fire, highway workers, tow truck drivers, and other incident responders potentially in harm’s way every day. Congestion from these incidents can generate secondary crashes, increasing traveler delay and frustration. The longer responders remain at the scene, the greater the risk they, and the traveling public, face. Every minute clearing an initial accident increases the chance of a secondary crash by 2.8 percent.

The National Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Responder Training program is building teams of well-trained responders who can work together in a coordinated manner, from the moment the first emergency call is made. They learn the correct deployment of response vehicles and equipment, how to create a safe work area using traffic control devices, and techniques to speed up accident clearance.

The program is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, which designed the course as part of the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) to improve highway safety and reduce congestion caused by crashes.

The curriculum is based on extensive and detailed research conducted with TIM responders across the country and is based on a train-the-trainer approach. The FHWA-led 10-hour course builds a team of instructors within each state, region, or agency. They, in turn, train their colleagues using this innovative curriculum. Shorter, four-hour courses and one-hour training modules (which became available online in late spring 2014) are used to cascade the training and make it available to all responders. Training modules are flexible and can be modified to fit state and local regulations or practices.

The TIM Training program has been endorsed by key agencies involved in incident response, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, State and Providential Divisions (IACP); International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC); and the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA).
More than 40,000 responders have been trained across the country using this curriculum. The results have been very positive. Several states are now requiring their state police or highway patrol officers to take the training. To generate the strongest teams, representatives from all responder groups train together, including police, fire, sheriffs, emergency medical services, dispatchers, tow professionals, departments of transportation, and public works.

This class was some of the best training I have had in a while. The cause is also very personal to me. My response district includes 2 Interstate highways, 4 State highways and several large regional roadways. My department as well as the local police and sheriff’s department have had several close-calls, including me personally, and a few accidents as the result of secondary crashes while operating on the scene of a primary incident. Thankfully no serious injuries or deaths have resulted. If it was one thing I learned from this class, however, that could just be a matter of time unless we start employing some different tactics regarding to operating in the roadway.

If anyone is interested in hosting training for your department, group of departments or group of mutual-responders you can contact me through the website and I’d be more than happy to come and put a class on for you or TIMTraining@dot.gov.

Like Tiger Schmittendorf says, “The most dangerous job we do. The job we do most often.”

Until next time be safe out there,

Chris