Emergency Response Day at the 2019 ITS America Annual Meeting

Emergency Response Day, affectionately called ER Day, has been a part of ITS America celebrations for nearly a decade. Its form and format change, but the underlying purpose has not: to provide an opportunity connect transportation leaders and ITS practitioners with the emergency responders who serve the traveling public.

The responders and their supporters are the ones we call on, the ones we depend on, when our existing technology, training, and education fail to maintain full mobility. In fact, responders are called on less frequently when our system functions as designed – moving people and goods efficiently and safely across our nation.

When bad things happen, we call on good people to solve the problems – responders in the short term to put things back together, and our transportation industry as a whole to react to those problems, and to help keep responders safe, traffic moving, and commerce thriving.

This year, ER Day is another opportunity to focus on the good people who share a vision of safer and more effective mobility for all. Responders get to talk with the technology providers, and the providers get to hear real issues straight from responders.


ER Day officials begins on June 5 with an all-call session that we call the Lightning Round. We will recognize responders, and the folks who are providing programming, technology, and interoperability in communications, systems integration, and continuing improvement in training and education. Attendees will get a taste of the day’s offerings from dozens of folks who will share, briefly, what is in store.

When the exhibition hall opens, attendees can see Freeway Service Patrol vehicles up close and personal, without the dangers of seeing them on the highway, where they remove obstacles, help get motorists back on the road, and limit the exposure of those folks and the responders who work with them. State Farm Insurance and Travelers Marketing are teaming up with Maryland and New Jersey DOT trucks to showcase the service patrol concepts.

Nearby, the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) booth will be a beehive of activities, without the bees of course. Games that will engaged attendees to focus on ways that the technology can work better for responders. It’s a chance to see sponsoring and support organizations like AECOM, Gannett Fleming, and HNTB work alongside the PA Turnpike, Southwest Research Institute, and others to engage attendees in conversations about how we move forward together.

Information will be provided on what various incident management practitioners are doing to leverage technology. Training information will be available. It will be a good place to be, and it’s close to the food and the trucks.

A special responder recognition time at the Pathways to Innovations Stage on the exhibit floor will also be part of the day, including recognition of those who have been struck at incident sites. The very real truth is that bad things are happening to good people, volunteer professionals and paid professionals, when they respond. Sadly, 2019 is already shaping up to be the deadliest year on record for towing, fire, EMS, and law enforcement. People are not moving over, or slowing down, in every instance.

Wednesday afternoon, Washington, DC Area Incident Management Roundtable will highlight a discussion of big rig clearance improvements following recent beltway traffic major traffic incidents. That event will also be on the Pathways to Innovations stage.

And before all of this happens, attendees enter the Walter Washington Convention Center, they will see vehicles and demonstrations highlighting equipment, technology, and where the two meet. Virginia DOT and DC DOT will be displaying vehicles, as will towing and operations vehicles. The demonstration area is along L Street NW, between 7th and 9th streets, be sure to come say hi.

All active responders who register will receive lunch and a polo shirt, recognizing the contributions they make all year. ER Day is just a way of saying thanks to responders, while putting them to work sharing their insights.

The planning success was a direct result of practitioners working cooperatively to honor responders. The committee includes: Chuck Yorks (chair) and Laurie Matkowski of Gannett Fleming; Bob Murphy of AECOM, Adam Hopps and Patrick Son of the National Operations Center of Excellence, Sam McClain and Elizabeh LaBelle of Travelers Marketing, Jim Austrich of FHWA, Scott Yinger of Maryland DOT, Sal Cowan of New Jersey DOT, Todd Leiss of PA Turnpike Commission, and Sheryl Bradley of HNTB.

Chuck Yorks is an Emergency and Incident Management Specialist with Gannett Fleming. 

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