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Managing Highway Incidents With NIMS

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 71 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2004 Pages: 20,22,25,27
Earl M. Sweeney
Date Published
July 2004
5 pages
This article describes the features of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), whose nationwide adoption under the mandates of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will revolutionize the way highway incidents will be managed in many local jurisdictions in the coming years.
The DHS has made the adoption of NIMS and the provision of NIMS training prerequisites for receiving homeland security grants. This requirement provides a strong incentive for States to adopt NIMS by statute or administrative rule, as well as for localities to embrace it. Because the quick clearance of roadways can be a lifesaver for first responders, other motorists, and onlookers, the traffic incident management system (TIMS) is a component of NIMS. TIMS can be used to manage all highway incidents, including major crashes, bridge collapses, snowstorms, terrorist incidents, landslides and other disasters, as well as planned events such as highway construction projects, parades, and public gatherings. TIMS provides for a unified command under a single incident commander, but with each participating entity represented in the command center as partners controlling their own resources through their own command structures at the scene. Generally, the implementation of an effective traffic incident management system will involve the following steps: the passage of effective laws and ordinances, the formation of incident management committees with representation from all the public and private entities that would contribute to the clearance of a traffic incident, and the training of first responders, both public and private. Many States are now incorporating these principles into their motor vehicle codes. Typical provisions of these codes include "move-over" provisions, avoidance of lane blockage, authority of the scene commander, compensation of incident removal costs, and exemption from liability. This article also outlines the responsibilities of the incident commander once an incident occurs. Procedural changes under the TIMS are also discussed. 6 notes