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C H A P T E R 3 Case Studies: Incident Management According to the FHWA, traffic incidents account for 25% of Washington State was selected for a case study because of the traffic congestion and are the largest source of nonrecurring well-documented and proven results they have demonstrated congestion in the United States (1). Effectively managing con- for their Incident Response Program. One aspect of the Incident gestion can reduce travel delay, increase safety, and ultimately Response Program, the Instant Tow Dispatch Program, was improve travel time reliability. The traffic incident management selected for more detailed consideration in this case study (3). case studies presented in this section examine the processes that As part of this case study, an interview was conducted with three agencies have developed to improve their incident man- Rick Phillips who, at the time of this writing, was serving as the agement capabilities. The Washington State DOT (WSDOT) incident response program manager for WSDOT, where he Joint Operations Policy Statement is discussed with a focus oversaw the Instant Tow Dispatch Program. Before joining on a specific process that was developed to implement the WSDOT, Phillips was with the WSP for 28 years, retiring as a Instant Tow Dispatch Program. The Florida DOT (FDOT) district commander. In his role with WSDOT, he coordinated Road Ranger program and the integration of public and pri- the statewide Incident Response Program for WSDOT and vate partners as part of that program are reviewed. Finally, worked closely with the WSP to update the JOPS Agreement the United Kingdom's Highways Agency's (HA) program for each year. Phillips was also responsible for reporting the per- ATM and how it is used for incident management is presented. formance of the Incident Response Program to the governor's Government Management Accountability and Performance report and the WSDOT Gray Notebook (4). Washington: WSDOT Joint Operations Policy Statement Description The State of Washington has developed one of the most comprehensive and effective incident response programs in The Washington State Incident Response case study exam- the United States. WSDOT and the Washington State Patrol ines the process that is used in Washington State to document (WSP) are the two primary agencies responsible for incident the Incident Response Program through the JOPS Agreement response on highways in Washington. WSDOT and WSP and includes a close look at the Instant Tow Dispatch Pro- have a long history of working together to improve incident gram, one of many successful programs for incident response response and reduce incident clearance times in Washing- in Washington State. The JOPS Agreement was first devel- ton. In 2002, WSDOT and WSP developed a Joint Opera- oped in 2002 and covers 13 areas of operation, including traf- tions Policy Statement (JOPS) Agreement that formalized fic incident management, enforcement, winter operations, each agency's roles and responsibilities for freeway opera- work zone safety, and transportation safety and security. This tions, including incident response. This document is signed case study focuses on the traffic incident management section by the Washington State Secretary of Transportation and the of the JOPS Agreement. There are seven subcategories that Chief of the Washington State Patrol and is updated each are included in the JOPS Agreement under traffic incident year (2). The JOPS Agreement clearly defines how incident management: response will be conducted in the State of Washington, identi- fies a specific employee from both WSDOT and WSP respon- Responder safety; sible for each program, and sets performance measures for the Safe and quick clearance; program. Incident-Response Team Program; 20

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21 Contracted service patrols and motorists assistance vans Development of the JOPS Agreement also led to the (MAVs); development of consistent performance measures because Instant Tow Dispatch Program; it required the agencies to define how data are collected and Blok-Buster Major Incident Tow Program; and reported. For example, WSDOT was measuring clearance Using technology and education to expedite investigations. times based on when the last incident response vehicle left the scene. This method of reporting affected another program that An expanded look at the Instant Tow Dispatch Program is WSDOT was implementing to provide incentives for meeting included in this case study. the 90-min clearance goal by tow providers. WSDOT could not effectively measure if tow providers met the 90-min clearance goal if they measured based on when the last incident response Background of Agency vehicle left the scene, because police and fire may stay on WSDOT and WSP are the two agencies that partner together the scene after all lanes are clear. On the other hand, WSP and lead incident response on Washington State highways. The measured clearance time based on when all lanes were clear. In two organizations have a long history of successfully working order to report clearance time consistently during the develop- together. For instance, all WSDOT incident response vehicles ment of the JOPS Agreement, WSDOT and WSP reached an have WSP-compatible radios. Although there are some areas agreement to record clearance times based on when all lanes of the country where opening public safety radio communica- were clear. tion to a non-public-safety agency would be difficult, in Wash- In 2006, the governors' office requested that WSDOT and ington State this is the expectation. This relationship between WSP begin reporting jointly on performance monitoring and WSDOT and WSP was formalized in the JOPS Agreement. accountability goals related to incident response and clearance WSDOT is divided into six regions, each with its own time. Meeting the 90-min goal became a joint responsibility of Incident Response Program. The greatest focus for incident WSDOT and WSP that both agencies would be evaluated on response has been in the Puget Sound area, where congestion is together. The reports that WSDOT and WSP provided were greatest. Puget Sound is covered by the Northwest and Olympic used as part of the Government Management Accountability WSDOT regions. To coordinate the program and act as a liai- and Performance Program that was being implemented in son to WSP, WSDOT has created a position for an incident Washington State (5). The joint reporting and joint responsi- response program manager within its headquarters. This role bility for incident response was identified as one of the most has traditionally been filled by someone with a law enforcement significant enablers for Washington State to deliver such an background who can speak the language of WSP and work effective incident response program. WSDOT and WSP had closely with WSP to continue the strong incident response part- already established a good working relationship, but now their nership between WSDOT and WSP. programs were tied to each other for success. One example of the cooperation and innovative thinking of WSDOT and WSP is found in the development and Process Development implementation of their Instant Tow Dispatch Program. WSDOT's Incident Response Program can be traced back to This low-cost program has shown significant benefits in 1963 when WSDOT tow and push trucks began clearing block- terms of clearance time and is a great example of WSDOT ages on the Mercer Island and Evergreen Point floating bridges. and WSP sharing resources and providing assistance to In the 1990s, incident-response teams were introduced as a each other. The next section describes this program in more pilot program during the Goodwill Games. In 2000, WSDOT detail. began a small pilot service patrol program, contracting out with WSP and private tow companies to provide roving units. Detailed Process and Integration Points The program continued to grow, and, in 2002, the manage- ment of WSDOT and WSP developed the JOPS Agreement to The Instant Tow Dispatch Program initially began as a pro- formalize each agency's roles and responsibilities for freeway gram on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to allow the quick operations. removal of disabled vehicles from travel lanes. Traditionally, The development of the JOPS Agreement was a major step when a disabled vehicle was reported or spotted using the in moving the Incident Response Program forward. By formal- WSDOT CCTV cameras, a WSP trooper was dispatched and izing the roles and responsibilities of each agency, identifying would verify that a tow was needed after arriving on scene. individuals to lead the different programs, setting timelines Under the Instant Tow Dispatch Program, as soon as an inci- and goals, and meeting annually to review and update the JOPS dent is verified on the CCTV cameras, a tow truck can be dis- Agreement, accountability was placed directly on individuals patched before a WSP trooper verifying the need for a tow. In at WSDOT and WSP. the initial program used on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, tow

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22 operators on each side of the bridge participated and were Several key integration or communication points were iden- dispatched based on which operator could access the disabled tified in the Instant Tow Dispatch Program process, including vehicles the fastest. An evaluation of the program by the Uni- the following: versity of Washington Transportation Research Center found that the Instant Tow Dispatch Program saved an average of WSP Communications and Instant Tow Operators for dis- 15 min for clearance compared to having an officer first patch of tow operators to incident scene; respond to the incident. However, the problem with the pro- WSDOT and Instant Tow Operators for providing reim- gram was how to reimburse drivers for dry runs. Dry runs bursement to Instant Tow Operators for dry runs; and occurred when tow truck drivers were dispatched, but before WSP on-scene officer and Instant Tow Operator on-scene they arrived, the disabled vehicle was already able to move out to allow tow operator to remove vehicles. of the lane. This might happen if the driver was able to get his or her car restarted or if a passing motorist provided assis- As noted, the JOPS Agreement is updated annually and tance. When this occurs, tow operators could waste as much signed by the Washington State secretary of transportation and as 30 min; they then would not want to participate in the pro- the chief of the WSP. As part of the update process, each of the gram unless they could be reimbursed for such lost time. 13 areas of operation is reviewed and updates are made if There were also other inconsistencies with this initial pro- necessary to the objective, policy, action items, measures of gram, as identified in the University of Washington study, performance, and timeline for that area. One of the most including how units were dispatched (6). important updates is the designation of a specific lead To address this concern, WSDOT implemented a pilot pro- employee from WSDOT and WSP. By assigning an individual gram over a larger area that would reimburse drivers $25 for who is responsible for each area, the JOPS Agreement adds an each dry run. When a disabled vehicle that is blocking at least important level of accountability for each area of operation. one lane of traffic is identified by WSDOT CCTV cameras in an area with the Instant Tow Dispatch Program, WSP will Types of Agencies Involved dispatch a WSP trooper and an Instant Tow Dispatch truck. WSDOT Incident Response monitors the dispatch of the WSP The incident response program in Washington State requires and will deploy a unit to the incident as well. WSP has up to the involvement of WSDOT and WSP at all levels. From the 10 min to cancel the call before the Instant Tow Dispatch oper- WSDOT secretary of transportation and the WSP chief who ator is eligible for a dry run reimbursement. If the WSDOT sign the JOPS Agreement to the WSDOT incident-response Incident Response unit arrives on scene first and can clear the teams and WSP troopers in the field, there is collective coop- incident, the Instant Tow Dispatch operator is only entitled to eration at all levels. One of the most important roles in the a dry run reimbursement. If the Instant Tow Dispatch opera- Incident Response Program is the WSDOT incident response tor does tow the vehicle, then the tow operator is reimbursed program manager. This person is responsible for coordination by the driver of the vehicle. with WSP for all the Incident Response Programs. The incident In 2008, there were 597 calls for Instant Tow Dispatch, result- response program manager also coordinates with WSDOT ing in 347 tows, 192 cancellations, and 58 dry runs. WSDOT regions. While each region has an Incident Response Program, was not billed for every dry run, and the program resulted in the level of implementation varies. For example, the Instant total direct costs of less than $1,000 for WSDOT. Results in 2007 Tow Dispatch Program is only provided in the Puget Sound were similar, with 235 calls for Instant Tow Dispatch, resulting area, Vancouver, and Spokane. The incident response pro- in tows and total direct cost to WSDOT of less than $1,000 (7). gram manager can coordinate with WSDOT personnel in other The Instant Tow Dispatch Program works well because of regions to be sure they understand the benefits of the program the trust between WSDOT and WSP and the formalized and help them determine if and when it would be appropriate program established in the JOPS Agreement. WSP dispatches to implement such a program in their region. Instant Tow Dispatch vehicles and determines if the call should In order for the Incident Response Program to be effective, be canceled, but WSDOT is responsible for paying for dry runs. WSDOT and WSP also had solicited the help and input of pri- Even though WSDOT is essentially paying for a program run vate tow operators in Washington State. WSDOT and WSP by WSP, there have been no issues with the program or pay- understood that the only way to make the Instant Tow Dis- ment procedures thus far. The program is providing a tremen- patch Program fair was to compensate the tow operators for dous benefit to motorists by clearing traffic lanes an average of dry runs. The tow operators had to accept that the Instant Tow 15 min faster and is doing so at a cost of less than $1,000 per Dispatch requests could be canceled within 10 min of initial year to WSDOT. dispatch. WSDOT and WSP have also listened to the other sug- The process used for the WSDOT Instant Tow Dispatch gestions from private tow operators. The operators suggested Program is displayed using the BPMN method in Figure 3.1. that it would be more effective for Instant Tow Dispatch to

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23 Figure 3.1. Detailed business process diagram of WSDOT incident response. assign a day or week to a particular Instant Tow Dispatch com- highlighted in this case study also relieves nonrecurring con- pany rather than use a rotation list. This would allow them to gestion caused by incidents, but it is limited to incidents that add additional staff during the time they were on-call. This has block traffic lanes and is not used for nonblocking incidents. resulted in WSDOT and WSP receiving better service and oper- ators who can appropriately staff for the weeks they are on-call. Performance Measures The primary performance measure used in the Incident Types of Nonrecurring Congestion Addressed Response Program is the 90-min clearance goal for all inci- The JOPS Agreement addresses all types of nonrecurring con- dents. WSDOT began discussing the 90-min clearance goal in gestion caused by incidents. It includes quick clearance poli- 1997 and 1998, but the agency did not establish it as a per- cies, incident-response teams, motorist assist vans, instant tow, formance measure and develop specific actions to accomplish major incident tow programs, and technology and education it until the JOPS Agreement was put into place. Since then, to expedite investigation. The JOPS Agreement is essentially a WSDOT has worked with WSP to develop a consistent defini- living document because it is closely reviewed and updated tion for how to define when an incident is cleared and agreed annually. The JOPS Agreement is applied statewide, although to use data from the WSP computer-aided dispatch (CAD) there are certain programs that have only been implemented in software to determine incident clearance times. Because urban areas because of the higher levels of congestion in the WSDOT uses the same CAD database for dispatch of their urban areas. The Instant Tow Dispatch Program that has been incident-response teams, they can compare data and use