California Holds Emergency Response Summit
RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) this week held their first-ever joint conference to improve emergency response efforts. The summit, held April 3-4 at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, Calif., brought together transportation and public safety professionals who are responders to highway incidents. These included tow service contractors, local emergency services providers, county coroners, commercial haulers, hazardous material clean-up contractors, and county environmental officials. "We are working hard to make our highways safer and get traffic moving quickly following accidents," Caltrans Director Will Kempton said. "We have made progress. The average clearance time for more than 700 incidents in 2005 was 3.2 hours, down from 5.5 hours in 2003 --– a 42 percent improvement. But, we need to do better."Up to 25 percent of all traffic congestion in California is due to highway emergency incidents. The summit's goal was to develop enhanced coordinated efforts among emergency responders and to reduce motorist delays while increasing safety. The summit agenda included topics such as the national view on incident management, roles of Caltrans and the CHP, responder safety, and prompt, reliable traffic incident communication and coordination. "Keeping the roadway open and traffic moving is a primary focus of the CHP,” said CHP Commissioner Mike Brown. “With the use of modern technology and increased patrol officers, we anticipate not only fewer crashes, but quicker response times to reopen roadways."