Talks are continuing about bringing the Iowa Traffic Incident Management Training Center to Jasper County. The ball is currently in the Iowa Department of Transportation’s court as the county waits to receive an official proposal for the center.
The proposal is to construct a training facility that allows responders including law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services, towing facilitators and any other entity that may be a part of a traffic incident to train in on real life scenarios in a safe setting. The ground selected is located south of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office on the 36 acres that previously housed the county care facility.
“It is a concept that allows all of the different disciplines that may be on some type of scene or an incident, a crash, hazardous materials spill, a road closure, any type of incident that effects the highway system in Iowa, this would be a training area that would allow them to practice all of those things in a real life scenario but not doing it on the side of the road which is going to be better for everyone,” IDOT Chief of Motor Vehicle Enforcement Dave Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen said the department has been working on the project for about three years following a visit he and Marler took to Nashville, Tenn. to see the training center there. Currently, the training center in Nashville is one-of-a-kind throughout the entire United States and has already started to see benefits in incident response.
“They have developed a three-day curriculum for some of their training, they have towing and recovery rodeos, they do different simulations such as cable guard rail breaking,” Director of the Traffic Management Center Scott Marler said.
The facility will be beneficial to Iowa for several reasons, with the most important being added safety to traffic incident responders.
“Here in Iowa, and nationally, vehicle miles are up. We’re looking at nearly 32 billion miles annually in Iowa alone,” Marler said. “In 2016, we saw a 27 percent increase in a traffic fatalities. What we are seeing on the primary system is 2,000 traffic incidents every month. It takes time to clear traffic incidents out of the lanes, and we have started to count these in terms of minutes because we know for every minute there is an incident, the potential for a secondary crash goes up about 2.8 percent. After roughly a half hour, we are at about 100 percent charge of a second crash.
“These are not the kinds of conditions we wish to see on our system. We know that training has resulted in some savings in terms of shaving minutes off of those response times, so our law enforcement community, our fire, EMS, our towing and recovery are all working toward the end goal of quick clearance for these traffic incidents.”
While in search for a location to build the facility, the department ran into road blocks twice before coming to Jasper County. They found property located near Cumming and in Dallas County could not be utilized for the project and were on the search for a new location when a partner project brought them to the Newton area.
“One of the projects we have been working on with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Council is the academy needs some fixing, it is a very old structure and there is some space issues. Director Judy Bradshaw started to explore different opportunities and in the mean time through the whole process of the gifting of the Maytag Campus to DMACC came about and conversations were had about the possibility of what that could mean for Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in the future,” Lorenzen said. “We were out here touring the Maytag Corporate campus and were looking at the land around there to see if this facility could fit there. Due to the proximity and the residential, it wasn’t the best fit in getting large types of apparatus might have been somewhat problematic. Some of the economic development agencies in those meetings suggested we look at the land that may be available directly across the from sheriff’s office to the south.”
While talks continue about the future of the ILEA, the DOT is moving forward with the training facility center. It would be beneficial for the two education centers to be close to each other Lorenzen said, but neither project is near a point to say where they will end up.
“This sounds like an outstanding opportunity, at least from our perspective whether we get both or one. Our traffic and roadways, any law enforcement agency, fire, EMS, will tell you that the most dangerous part of our job is out there on those roadways,” Halferty said. “The opportunity to have the ability to train and work with our fire and EMS partners and have this training facility, not only county wide but state wide, would be a huge asset. ILEA would be a tremendous addition to our county to be able to draw them in there. There is training year round. I think it has a lot of potential, we’re looking forward to something to move ahead here and be a very positive project for our community.”
Contact Jamee A. Pierson
at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534