Quick thinking and the right tool helps divert traffic on major interstate taking pressure off vital first responders, preventing congestion and avoiding possible secondary accidents.
- Brian Burgess, Williamson County EMA
- Using Hyper-Reach Mass Notification System, Williamson County EMA alerted the community to avoid the area of a multi-car accident near the intersection of I-57 and I-24
- Emergency alerts provided travelers the information needed to avoid the area
- Major congestion avoided
- Pressure taken off of first responders and emergency personnel
Williamson County, in southern Illinois, is located at the intersection of I- 57 and I-24. This area has high traffic volumes (~2000 cars/hour) and any disruption to traffic flow can cause a backup of 30-40 miles and a lots of issues for both drivers and responders. Traffic slowdowns can cause injuries in a variety of ways:
- They create an unsafe environment for responders. According to FEMA, 16 emergency responders have been killed in struck-by incidents in the first 3 months of 2022. Last year, 65 emergency responders were struck and killed while assisting others on roadways. An unknown number of others were injured. Alleviating congestion helps to provide protection for incident victims and responders.
- Drivers may seek to make the most of a slowdown and engage in distracting behaviors, such as reading, texting, or making phone calls. The stop-and-go pattern of a traffic jam can lead to rear-end accidents, as one car piles into another due to inattention.
- High congestion levels can also lead to an increase in traffic incidents due to closer vehicle spacing and overheating of vehicles during summer months.
- When it is rush hour, drivers may take chances they should not take as they rush and hurry to work or to get home on time. When drivers are in a hurry to get somewhere, congestion can be particularly hazardous.
Recently, a multi-tractor and multi-car accident occurred near that intersection in WIlliamson County which shut down both the North and Southbound lanes – creating the potential for a hazardous situation and additional emergency situations. Williamson County EMA Director Brian Burgess, knowing the possible risks, used their Hyper-Reach mass emergency notification system to quickly create an alert for that area alerting drivers to avoid the area and find an alternate route.
“As soon as I heard, I knew that travelers north of the county line to south would need to be alerted so that anyone in the area could find an alternate route”, said Burgess.
Director Burgess’ quick thinking provided travelers in the area advance notification alleviating any extreme congestion. Once both directions were re-opened, the Incident Commander praised Director Burgess’ decision to send out the alert. “Please do that every time”, he said.