2018 Traffic Incident Management Partnering Workshop – Metro Detroit

On March 8th, 2018,  110 members from across the traffic incident management (TIM) community gathered for the 13th annual Southeast Michigan Traffic Incident Management Partnering Workshop at the Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan. Participants in the workshop ranged from professionals in police, fire, emergency medical services, public safety answering points, towing companies, freeway service patrol operators, and road agencies from the state, county and municipal levels

The half-day workshop was opened with welcoming remarks from Joe Patrosky, Dean of Engineering and Advanced Technology at Macomb Community College and Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive. Mark Hackel described the formation of the COMTEC Center that co-locates the Roads Department Traffic Signal Operations center, the Macomb County Sheriff dispatch, and the Emergency Operations center. Capt. David Daniels from the Macomb County Sheriff Office Vicky Wolber from Macomb County Homeland Security, and John Abraham from the Macomb County Department of Roads described the benefits of the three operations working together on common operational issues. The center provides 911 dispatch, emergency management, traffic operations, and information technology. It features a 50’ X 20’ video wall viewed by all the partners. The center has access to 250 cameras and controls over 500 traffic signals. The cameras are used for both traffic signal operations and security.

Michele Mueller, Senior Project Manager from the Michigan Department of Transportation, described the department’s cooperation with auto suppliers and original equipment manufacturers on connected vehicle technologies. This technology can assist first responders. She explained that connected vehicles can communicate with each other or the infrastructure while autonomous vehicles navigate the road environment using their onboard sensors. Connected vehicles can help first responders with location information, damage/injury information, signal priority and pre-emption, vehicle detection/collision avoidance, road weather information, and vehicle shutdown. MDOT has three traffic operations centers – a statewide center in Lansing, a west Michigan center in Grand Rapids, and a southeast Michigan center in Detroit. MDOT is working on signal priority and pre-emption, road weather, and project applications of roadside technology. The Intelligent Transportation Society of America will hold its Annual Meeting in Detroit June 4-7 this year.  June 6 will be a special day for first responders.

Col. Mindy Albright, a chaplain from Warrior Family Ministries provided a briefing on Trauma Exposure. First responders can be exposed to trauma as they respond to emergency. She described critical response in stress incident situations. Examples of critical incidents include line of duty death, suicide of a co-worker or other individual, serious injury of an employee, multiple casualty incident, any incident involving children, and serious assault in the workplace. Examples of critical incidents are natural disasters, terrorist incidents, retirement, “empty nest”, economic changes – loss of job, medical bills, loss of a purse or cash. Crisis is a response condition wherein psychological homeostasis has been disrupted, one’s usual coping mechanisms have failed, there is some evidence of functional impairment. Sudden, unexpected, often life -threating time limited events may overwhelm an individual’s capacity to respond adaptively. Research has shown that human made disasters are more psychologically pathogenic than natural disasters. Terrorism may be the most pathogenic of all due to its unpredictable and unrestrained nature. The conditions resulting from traumatic exposure are withdrawal, depression, panic attacks, substance abuse, rage reactions, brief psychotic reaction, post-traumatic stress disorder. Abundant evidence indicates stress can deteriorate physical and mental health, impair performance, negatively alter relationships, change personality features, generate numerous conditions resulting from traumatic exposure.

Psychological triage is an essential skill in crisis intervention – determining who most needs assistance. It has been presumed that all who experience the crisis need assistance, but this in not true. Care must be taken so as not to interfere with natural coping mechanisms as well as not to overlook those who do need assistance. You cannot “burn out” unless you were “on fire” initially. High risk for burnout are helping professions, high ideals, motivated, and committed. Burnout symptoms for accumulated stress include procrastination, chronic fatigue, cynicism, chronic lateness, difficulty experiencing happiness, pessimism, sense of fore-shortened future, loss of satisfaction with one’s career or life, questioning one’s own faith. Keys to stress management are physical exercise, cognitive exercise, relaxation response practice, interpersonal support, positive attitude, knowing your limitations, faith in something greater than yourself

A panel of traffic management center operators from southeast Michigan described how these centers can provide information to assist first responders. The panel included Aaron Raymond from the Michigan Department of Transportation Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center, Sunny Jacob from the City of Detroit, Ahmad Jawad from the Road Commission for Oakland County, and John Abraham from the Macomb County Department of Roads. Aaron Raymond explained that important information needed to assess the impact of high impact incidents includes location, severity, environmental, structural, traffic, and weather. The contributions to the assessment are dispatch centers, SEMTOC, first responders, and freeway courtesy patrol. The benefits of working together are better safety for first responders, correct resources arrive promptly, and improved mobility. Between 2011 and 2015 there has been a 45% increase in reported high impact incidents. There are 75 less full freeway closures per year. An after-action review of high impact incidents can collaborate details, document lessons learned, and evaluate the need to change. Real time streaming of MDOT cameras is available to trusted partners. Macomb County, Road Commission for Oakland County, and City of Detroit all have traffic cameras. We learned that traffic cameras can be a valuable tool for first responders. They can identify the location of an incident and the range of responders needed. They can monitor the effectiveness of the response and provide information for alternate routes.

The workshop then moved to a table top discussion about how traffic management centers can assist first responders. A summary of the participants’ ideas will be prepared and shared with members of the TIM community.

After lunch, Richard Beaubien provided a brief history of traffic incident management in Metro Detroit for fire chiefs who were unable to attend the morning portion of the program. The event was organized by ITS Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the Southeast Michigan Fire Chiefs, the Macomb Traffic Safety Association, and Beaubien Engineering. It was sponsored by Opticom and Carrier & Gable.