First responders in five counties celebrate collaboration and cooperation

Press release

The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), together with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP), held a ceremony Nov. 18 to celebrate the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between first responders in Cass, Gage, Lancaster, Otoe and Saunders counties.

Formalized Traffic Incident Management (TIM) partnerships in Southeast Nebraska support the group’s progress in moving TIM initiatives forward to improve safety, reliability and efficiency on the roadway. This marks a major milestone in the NDOT program, which has been working for over a decade to advance TIM in targeted areas.

At the ceremony, NDOT, NSP, Lincoln Fire and Rescue, Midwest Towing, and local first responders spoke about the critical work our responders do for safe roadways in Nebraska.

“As we look towards the future of transportation, we know we must look to our collaborations with our safety partners across the state to improve safety for everyone,” said NDOT Director John Selmer. “Today we celebrate the success of the TIM efforts in this region, which establishes an important foundation as we work together for a safer tomorrow.”

“The Nebraska State Patrol and the Nebraska Department of Transportation have maintained a long history together,” said NSP Colonel John Bolduc. “This MOU, along with others signed in the Omaha metro and Western TIM group, reinforce our joint commitments to improving safety for all responders on the roadways.”

NDOT’s TIM Program is focused on the safety of roadway users and the professionals who respond to traffic incidents. Incident responders’ risk of injury or death is constant.

According to the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition (NTIMC), traffic crashes and “struck-by” incidents continue to be a leading cause of on-duty injuries and deaths for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and towing and recovery professionals.

NDOT’s TIM Program brings emergency professionals together and promotes best practices so incidents like crashes can be cleared as quickly and safely as possible, improving safety for those responding to crashes and motorist on the roadways.

“Every member of this group believes in the importance of safety. It is part of each of our everyday lives,” Lincoln Fire and Rescue Fire Captain Nancy Crist said. “By working together, we can be smarter, faster, and improve safety for all involved.”

“The dangers we encounter while doing our jobs on the roadway are real,” said Andrew Weber from Midwest Towing. “Near misses occur more than anyone knows. We are proud to be partners in this MOU and advancing safety for all our partners on the roadways.”

This group of responders in Southeast Nebraska has met regularly over the last five years to advance TIM and has built and fostered relationships, established best practice, and regularly communicated on areas of improvement. The result of these efforts resulted in the signed MOU, which pledges that TIM partners across the area will continue to work cooperatively towards safe and quick incident clearance. Participants include federal, state, and local transportation agencies, law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency communications, tow operators, emergency managers, and others.

Crash Responder Safety Week was Nov, 8 - 14, and NDOT highlighted how they are working throughout Nebraska to keep our roadway users and crash responders safe! It’s called Traffic Incident Management – TIM for short.

When traffic incidents, like crashes, occur, TIM training helps first responders clear the scene safely and quickly to keep traffic moving. We’re all in this together, let’s work together to keep our highways safe and flowing.

Traffic incidents are the leading cause of death for emergency responders. For every minute a primary crash continues to be a hazard, the risk of a secondary crash goes up nearly 3% - increasing risk to drivers’ lives and our first responders’ safety.

If you're in a minor crash where no one is seriously injured, you should stay in your vehicle and move it to the side of the road in a safe location? This helps other drivers and emergency personnel who will be assisting you, and helps keep you safe.

Every minute a lane is blocked causes four extra minutes of delay. Traffic incidents are a key cause of unexpected congestion. Americans burn more than 2.8 billion gallons of gas each year as a result of being stuck in incident-related traffic congestion.

Public messaging is a critical component in keeping roadway users and crash responders safe. NDOT, public information officers, and the media provide important messages to the traveling public, including detours, Move Over Slow Down laws, and distracted driving campaigns.

For Nebraska’s “Move Over, Slow Down” laws, if you see emergency or road assistance vehicles stopped on the side of the road, move over or slow down as you pass. This keeps our roadside responders safe.

NDOT wants all roadway users to join them by accepting the Buckle Up Phone Down Challenge.

Whether it's down the street or across the country, buckling up and putting your phone down are two of the most impactful actions any driver can take to prevent crashes and reduce injury if one occurs. This challenge helps protect not only yourself, but your family and community, too, we’re all in this together.