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Douglas County training facility 'will save lives of first responders'

Traffic Incident Management site only second in nation

Posted

Emergency personnel from across Douglas County responded to a single-car rollover accident at 8500 N. Moore Road Nov. 17. When they arrived officers determined there were no injuries, but the car was blocking both lanes of traffic. A Douglas County Sheriff's deputy used his vehicle to push the car off the side of the road and traffic patterns were restored.

The accident, part of a demonstration by Douglas County First Responders, took place at the county's Emergency Vehicle Operation Center, and introduced the new Traffic Incident Management track, which includes nearly three acres where first responders can be trained safely, while using real cars and re-creating dangerous scenarios.

Until now, according to officials, training had taken place on tables using matchbox cars.

“We are very proud of this outstanding facility and even more proud of the public and private partnerships that make it possible,” said Douglas County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tim Moore. “On Feb. 23 of this year this site was just a vacant field. Today, just 10 months later, it's a huge public-safety training and safety asset.”

According to Ryan Rice, director of transportation systems management and operations for Colorado Department of Transportation, the facility is only the second of its kind in the country.

“This will save lives of first responders," Rice said, "and make lives better for drivers.”

The TIM track came to be after the Colorado State Patrol was tasked with reviewing all aspects of emergency response and identify opportunities to improve responder safety.

The concept of TIM was a collaborative effort between CDOT, Colorado State Patrol, Couglas County and the Douglas County Sheriff's office. The $1.5 million used to create the track was approved by the state Transportation Commission and paid for through the CDOT Transportation Systems Management and Operations division.

According to Colorado State Patrol Deputy Chief Mark Savage, the department has lost three deputies in three years because of secondary accidents while they were responding to a call. By training together and in a controlled environment, first responders can learn the safest way to handle a traffic incident, and the fastest way to clear the accident and restore the flow of traffic.

The facility opened in July, but the TIM track was unveiled Nov. 17 in honor of First Responder Appreciation Week. The training center has been used to test low-light sight-distance testing and testing of autonomous vehicles. Teen drivers, academy cadets and local first responders have used the facility as well.

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