The Responder May 2016

Message from the New TIM Network Liaison

Here we are at the first of June already.  The weather continues to be crazy around the country as we move into the summer vacation season.  With this time of year comes increased traffic as more and more people take to the roads with their families.  This is also when the construction really gets started across the country which will mean delays as we travel,  and increased exposure of workers and responders to the dangers of traffic.  I think that some of this exposure to traffic can be minimized if everyone plans their trips, taking into account work zones on their route, and taking a little extra time to slow down and enjoy our beautiful country.

At the beginning of May, Police Officers, EMS personnel and Public Works personnel prepared for the week of May 15th through May 21st, the week designated to honor them.  In a perfect world the celebrations would have occurred honoring those who sacrifice for all of us throughout the year, without additional sadness brought on by the loss of life.  But, we don’t live in a perfect world.  As everyone prepared to celebrate and honor  the heroes who have gone before us, we lost more personnel.  I was personally touched by the death of a police officer, Detective Brad Lancaster, from the Kansas City Kansas Police Department.  I started my career with the KCKPD, and my son is a Motorcycle Officer with this department.  We must never forget the personnel who continue to sacrifice so much for us.  To paraphrase the survivor of a law enforcement officer who gave his life for us, “It is not how our personnel died that make them heroes, it is how they lived.”

As we work in every state to promote Traffic Incident Management, and the safety of our personnel, there have been conferences conducted this year promoting TIM and the benefits of a strong TIM program.  I participated in the 2016 Iowa TIM Conference that was conducted in Ames, Iowa on May 16th.  This is the second annual Iowa TIM Conference, and it was a very successful conference.  Jack Sullivan was the Keynote Speaker and spoke on taking TIM into the future.  Angela Roper, the Executive Director of the International Towing & Recovery Museum, Tony Carr from Arrow Towing, and Scott Alff from the Omaha Fire Department spoke about the towing industry and TIM.  Derek Lampkin, with BNSF Railroad, spoke about response to railway HazMat incidents.  There was a presentation highlighting the operations of the Iowa Statewide Traffic Incident Management Center.  And, two SHRP2 TIM for Responders sessions were conducted.  In addition to those mentioned above, there were many people who worked very hard to plan and conduct this conference.  The conference was attended by over 280 TIM practitioners.  All of those in attendance said that they would do their part to promote TIM and the safety of responders as they move forward.  Congratulations to the Iowa DOT on another great conference.

June 5, 2016, is World Environment Day.  What, you might ask, does this have to do with TIM?  In the response community we seldom get the opportunity to stand at the scene of an incident, no matter how large or small, and consider, “I wonder what impact this incident will have on the world environment.”  We are usually trying to get our personnel off the roadway and minimize impact that incidents have on traffic flow.  But, when we have an opportunity to discuss incidents and good TIM practices, I believe that we should be looking at the overall impact of an incident.  And remember, there are countless incidents around the world each day.  If we don’t consider the environmental impact of these incidents at some point in time, including how we respond to and mitigate incidents, we are bound for serious damage to our environment.

A strong TIM program, with the stakeholders planning and training together, will help to protect the environment that we live in.  It will help direct us in the response to and mitigation of incidents that have the potential to damage the environment.  And it will protect our personnel who work at incidents from being injured or killed as a result of exposure to materials that can also damage the environment.  As we continue to plan and train, remember to consider the environmental impact of our decisions and actions.  Our goal should be to leave the world a better place for our children.

I have a flagpole at my house that I am very proud of.  I fly the American flag as well as Law Enforcement and Fire Memorial flags.  These memorial flags are Thin Blue Line and Thin Red Line flags that I had made.  I fly them during the weeks that honor my heroes in fire and law enforcement who have made the ultimate sacrifice for me and my family.  I was thinking recently that there are no flags that are designed to memorialize those who lose their lives in the Towing and Transportation industry.  Towing and transportation are key stakeholders of any strong TIM program, and many have lost their lives.

I worked to design a memorial flag that pays tribute to those in Towing and Transportation who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  The flag has high visibility, retro-reflective material in the center surrounded by black stripes.  I have attached a photo of my flag.  While I never want to have to use this flag, I know that the time will come.  And I will be able to show my sympathy and support for those who work so hard.


Rusty Pic


As we are working at incidents on our roadways, employing the best TIM techniques, using proper traffic control, giving plenty of advance warning, working hard to minimize the impact that these incidents have on traffic, I ask that you remember something.  In our country, on our highways, there should never be a time when towing personnel or transportation are left unprotected at the scene of an incident.  As law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel, we have no problem requesting a tow truck or DOT personnel to respond to an incident.  However, the towing and DOT personnel often don’t feel the same ability to request law enforcement, fire or EMS personnel and equipment to protect them.  Never leave them unprotected!

As I close I want to take a moment to thank all of you who work so hard and give so much to protect responders, protect other motorists and keep traffic flowing every day.  They work hard, and it is often thankless.  No one calls us to say how good things are on our roadways.  I am blessed to have so many friends in the response community.  You all make a huge difference every day.  I know it is hard to remember this sometimes as you go from call to call to call.  I hope that you will all take the time to thank those who are working beside you and thank them for all that they do.  You are all heroes to me.

Be safe as you travel.  Please take the time to talk with friends, relatives and everyone you love about TIM.  Let them know what they need to do if they approach and drive through an incident scene or work zone.  Explain the dangers faced by responders every day.  Our lives depend on it.


View from the Street

By Eric Reddeck, NFFF Everyone Goes Home Advocate

Safety Stand Down is  June 19-25, 2016   supported by national and international fire and emergency service organizations as well as health and safety-related organizations and agencies.

Traffic Incident Management is a planned and coordinated program process to detect, respond to, and remove traffic incidents and restore traffic capacity as safely and quickly as possible. National trained Responders by State  5/16/2016

Use  seatbelts in department apparatus and personal vehicles

2016 Killed in the Line of Duty   *all causes*

Police Officers   37
Firefighters       24
EMS                   03  National Association of State EMS Officials – TIM
Towers               03

Having a nice EMS week here in Glendale, AZ!

Don’t forget to wear your seat belt! 

Montgomery Pic


Ignore Mom and Dad just once, please

Check out Jim McGee’s article using the link below!

Ignore Mom and Dad just once, please

Please don’t make Incident Management a Technology Showcase!

Leo van den Berg

Technology Scout and ITS consultant

Leo pic

I started my career as an ITS-engineer for the Dutch DOT some 30 years ago. Great time, and I learned a lot. I was also so lucky to have some real great mentors who laid the basis for what I am today: A skilled and experienced IT & ITS professional.

I also had some non-technical colleagues who – from my technical perspective back then – created more problems than solving them. They always discussed the problem, the impact, the benefits and whatever else, except for the solution, which – in my opinion – was so completely clear. Just buy that and that product, build some software and there you go! Another problem solved!

What do you expect: Late-Twenty, full of energy and in possession of an unhealthy dose of obstinacy!

The funny thing is that when your first grey hairs appear, you start understanding these “political”, “organizational” and “functional” thinkers and you transform from a “bulldozing doer” to an open-minded, collaborating group worker.

I was thinking about my own experience while I was turning over the pages of a tender document for a “to be purchased, off-the-shelf” Incident Management System. Not that I am going to offer, I was just reading the document out of professional curiosity.

Incident Management (IM) is an important pillar of Traffic Management and – if embedded well in an organization – reduces the impact of Incidents substantially. The Netherlands has a clear definition for IM:

Incident Management is the totality of measures intended to clear a road for traffic use as quickly as possible after an incident has taken place, all being done with regard for protecting the interests of possible victims, the safety of the emergency service workers, traffic safety as well as the control over the damage caused.

Or in short: Clearing the road as soon as possible and as safely as possible.

The Dutch policy framework was created in 1998 and IM-coverage was defined for the national motorways and parts of the other road networks. Because of the needed cooperation between emergency services, road-administrations a specific “IM office” was created which took the lead in defining guidelines, protocols and trainings needed to make IM successful. I dare to say that the Dutch approach has become one of the most successful IM implementations in the world!

Although new technological developments, such as e-Call or intelligent vehicles, are being investigated or implemented, IM already runs well on clear inter-organizational agreements and protocols. In other words: when the shit hits the fan on a Dutch road, every IM-partner knows exactly his responsibility and how to act.

Is technology useful for IM? Well naturally! But first things first: Policy, Organization, Guidelines, Protocols, Training etc. etc.

I was thinking of this prioritizing when I read the following statements in the tender papers:

… Our current work practices are inconsistent, so our incident/event data is only of limited use. A single, national system with the ability to embed workflow/rules-driven operating procedures will address these issues….

…Various data can be provided via a rules engine and master data tables, but much will be operator-input…

… Verification confirms the incident record, so it is vital for the incident process. It should be as automated as possible….

… Each Incident requires a ‘typical’ response, which can be embedded by using a rules engine to generate the various required actions…

… We would anticipate that a workflow rule-set would manage this automated process.

… The business rule engine in the solution must support open standards

And the tender goes on and on: A document filled with technological buzzwords. I even did a fast text search: The words ITS or system were found over 110 times, rules [engine] 44 times while the keyword Police was only used 9 times.

I hesitated. Shall I call them and offer a fact-finding mission so they could learn from other country’s experience, gather knowledge and create a clear view of what is really needed?

I decided it would be a waste of time: The tender was possibly written by an over-active late-twenty consultant with an unhealthy dose of obstinacy.

“If they want a Technology Showcase, they´ll have one!” I said to myself, and I shoved the document through the paper shredder.

Leo van den Berg works as an independent consultant in the area where ITS and IT meet. He has over 30 years experience in the development of Traffic Management & Enforcement systems. Leo is an enthusiastic Technology Scout who tries to find solutions for real-world problems. 

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Leo van den Berg.  The article has been reprinted with his permission.  Leo van den Berg may be reached at the following link in LinkedIn:

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TIM Network/FHWA Knowledge Management System (KMS) 

The TIM Network coupled with the Federal Highway Administration has launched a new TIM Knowledge Management System. We encourage all TIM Network members to submit articles, resources, and any other general TIM information that could help practitioners across the nation. As seen below, these featured articles will be included in The Responder. Don’t be afraid to submit!

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