The Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Department of Public Safety, and Maricopa County Department of Transportation hosted the Southwest Regional Incident Management (TIM) Summit in Phoenix, AZ, December 9-10th. This event was sponsored by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) as well as by the Federal Highway Authority. The word Summit was used deliberately by the organizers, rather than conference, symposium, or meeting. The reason for this was to set the overarching tone of the gathering as more collaborative and results based, having those in attendance walk away with clear action items and recommendations. The result was plenary sessions with highly productive question and answer periods as well as successful participation focused breakouts.
The objective set for day one was to share TIM best practices. Welcoming attendees to the summit, Arizona Department of Transportation Director John Halikowsk shared Arizona DOTs latest progress in TIM and their goals in becoming a leader in the community. California Highway Patrol Chief Robert Maynard spoke of the importance of incorporating TIM training into the patrol training curriculum. While training time is competitive, TIM makes a case for itself with a clear connection between training and officer safety as well as the fact that the quicker an accident is cleared, the easier it is for safety officials to go to the next call. Additionally, representing the NOCoE, John Conrad shared the NOCoE’s efforts in advancing TIM through its website and in recent meetings and webinars.
What was highlighted at the beginning, and would become a central theme throughout the Summit, was the importance of accomplishing a multidisciplinary approach by bringing all stakeholders to the table: State and Local transportation agencies; safety officials from police, fire, and EMS; as well as the towing industry. Glendale, AZ Assistant Police Chief Rick St. John stated that such an approach would help in the communication between first responders, so that EMS knows what firefighters are doing, why they are doing it, and vice-versa. Knowing why one group does something helps all groups properly execute their responsibilities and not step on one another's toes.
The keynote speaker for the Summit was Colonel Tracy Trott from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Colonel Trott spoke on efforts by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and DOT to advance TIM programs in that State, resulting in the first TIM dedicated training facility in Nashville, TN. This facility features sections of full-size interstate and two-lane highway to help teach first responders how to efficiently and quickly clear hazards from the road. Colonel Trott instructed those in attendance to wake up everyday and think about how they can help achieve zero deaths on the highway.
NOCoE Board of Directors Chair and Colorado DOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt spoke on the importance of prioritizing incident management to ensure the safety of drivers and first responders. Director Bhatt also held up TIM as pivotal to increasing safety and traffic flow in light of increasing populations without building new roads. A consistent theme through the Summit was the the need to drastically reduce and even eliminate secondary crashes. Director Bhatt highlighted the fact that the risk of an incident increases after the initial accident occurs. Colonel Trott later added that such secondary crashes are often more severe than the initial incident.
The objective set for Day 2 was the creation of action items for advancing TIM in the Southwest region. Chief Tim Lane of the Arizona Department of Transportation discussed the creation of the Executive Leadership Group (ELG), set up primarily to address the hurdle in the TIM community when a city, state, or region has a TIM champion and that champion leaves. The TIM programs take a hit. There needed to be more sustainable leadership. With this in mind, and because accidents do not always stay within defined jurisdictions, Eric Rensel raised the idea of developing a Southwest regional ELG in an effort to facilitate communication and cooperation between state and local authorities from DOTs, patrol, fire, EMS, and the towing industry. Such efforts in institutionalizing TIM and promoting training will help first responders in addressing another major challenge: who is in charge on site and how does that responsibility shift from dispatch to completion.
As the Summit wrapped up, an important message for attendees was to bring back the highlights and action items to their respective organizations and agencies. Carrying on the discussion and ensure that the information goes up the pipeline so everyone understands the need to prioritize TIM. The NOCoE is proud to act as a resource and hub for ongoing collaboration. There will be a white paper written up on the findings and action items resulting from the Southwest Regional TIM Summit. We will post that report here on the NOCoE website as well as any follow up information on the Southwest Region’s efforts in starting up a Regional ELG and their continued efforts in advancing TIM training, tactics, and strategies.