Potential first responders learning to be safer on the road in Sioux City

RoadsideSafety is at the core of all we do. But we can’t do it all. At the Iowa DOT, we are part of a larger community of first responders. For all of us to be safer when responding to a crash or other incident on the road, we all need to work from the same playbook. The Federal Highway Administration designed a standardized training program for all roadway first responders including firefighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, and towing companies.  All Iowa DOT field forces go through this training and our Traffic Operations Bureau has a hand in training other responders statewide.

We do a great job of training our folks who are new to our agency, and we’re finding out more about other agencies that are stepping up to train the next generation of first responders, including an organization in Sioux City that introduces high school students to the principles of traffic incident management hoping to spark their interest in careers as first responders.

The program at the Sioux City Career Center includes kids from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota The program enlists the assistance of real-life heroes like firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and towers to teach the next generation.  

Anthony Gaul

Anthony Gaul, the fire chief in Sgt. Bluff, has been teaching up-and-coming firefighters for many years. He’s also been a trainer for the Federal Highway Administration’s Traffic Incident Management Responder Training. He currently leads instruction for the five classes in the emergency response series for the Sioux City Career Academy. These classes not only open students’ eyes to the world of emergency services but also give the students college credits through Western Iowa Tech Community College.

Gaul explained, “With five different classes, we’re able to hit on a variety of topics relevant to first responders. The first session is an introductory class where we talk about all aspects of being a first responder. We have guest speakers from emergency medical services, law enforcement, and many others who explain to the students that we all need to work together to serve the public.”

TIM training
Classes teach potential first responders about how to stay safer on the road.

Overall Gaul estimates 70 to 80 kids have taken the full traffic incident management course and another 70 to 80 have taken the shortened version. He said, “It’s great when they come in after having taken the class with observations they made on the road about signs or guardrails or other safety elements,” he said. “They spread the word within their friend groups and families about traffic safety.”

The training is paying off for the local communities with Gaul noting that seven of the students who have been through the series of classes are now career firefighters, 23 more are working on becoming firefighters, and a few more are pursuing careers in law enforcement and corrections.

Fire science

He said, “This is filling a need in our community and now reaches parts of three states. The South Sioux City Fire Department was recently awarded a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response or SAFER grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This will help pay for travel to the Career Academy for kids from Nebraska and South Dakota.”

Building key partnerships and working to inspire the next generation of responders is just one way we are working to increase safety on roadways and make lives better through transportation.

Taking training classes

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