Training key for interstate crash first responders

Training key for interstate crash first responders

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ATLANTA -

You see the overturned vehicles and life-changing wrecks out on the road, but it's probably not often that you think about what it takes to get the victims of those crashes out quickly.  For first responders out on the interstates, training is key when it comes to getting you out of harm's way.

It's drills like the ones that take place at the Metro Atlanta Extrication and Technical Rescue Conference that give firefighters the training they need to work crash scenes.  

"We don't call them accidents, said Rory Howe of the Georgia Department of Transportation's Time Task Force.  "We call them crashes, collisions—no such thing as an accident.  It can be avoided."

Dozens of firefighters from three states took part in the training to help speed up their work. Roswell Fire Department Deputy Chief Paul Piccirilli told SKYFOX Traffic's Katie Beasley it's that type of training that helps them gain a quicker response time to size up the scene, make it safe and get everything happening faster.

With each crash on the interstate, the goal is simple: Get the wreckage out of the travel lanes as soon as possible—because time is money.  In fact, a single lane closure on the Downtown Connector costs $344,000—and that's only the cost in terms of cash.  

Clearing away trouble spots also helps keep other drivers safe.  Officials say they're trying to reduce the number of secondary crashes.  They say nationally, 20 percent of crashes that happen on the interstates are secondary, and half of those are fatal.  

The emphasis on clearing wrecks quickly also translates to tow trucks.  The Towing and Recovery Incentive Program keeps certain drivers on standby in case of a bad crash.  In some cases, they can earn cash bonuses from the federal government for clearing problems in less than 90 minutes.

For the first responders, it's about being ready for anything.  

All of the vehicles used in the two-day training course were provided by Newell Recycling.  Without them, organizers say it wouldn't have been possible.

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