News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 10, 2013

Emergency responders to look at how they handled I-70 closing


TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Sheriff’s Department and other emergency response organizations are preparing to look at how they handled last week’s closing of Interstate 70.

The sheriff’s department, in a news release issued on Sunday, praised the formation of a new Wabash Valley Traffic Incident Management team earlier this year, saying it “proved to be a tremendous value” during Friday’s incident.

On Friday, I-70 was closed for more than six hours because of a semitrailer accident. During the post-accident cleanup efforts, interstate traffic was redirected through Terre Haute.

Area emergency response organizations — including police, fire, EMS and towing companies — signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year to form the traffic incident management team. The effort was facilitated by Ron Hinsenkamp and Jeremy Weir, officials with the West Central Indiana Economic Development District. The team is chaired by Maj. Jeff Fox of the sheriff’s office.

More than 100 local emergency responders, including 14 from the sheriff’s department, have now been trained according to federal traffic incident management standards. The rerouting of I-70 Friday involved the Indiana State Police, Vigo County Sheriff’s Department, West Terre Haute and Terre Haute police.

During Friday’s incident, for the first time, sheriff’s deputies were able to take control of traffic signals along the emergency route through town, according to the news release. Deputies were issued keys to traffic signal boxes, allowing them to manually operate the signals to better move traffic through town, the release stated.

The traffic incident management team plans an after-action review to determine how improvements can be made upon Friday’s handling of the closure, the news release stated.