Speciality team called to action during massive pileup
PLOVER (WAOW) -
Cars were backed up for miles because Tuesday's massive pileup on Interstate 39 in Marathon County. More than 100 cars had to be rerouted as first responders worked to clear the scene.
In his 30 year career Plover Fire Chief Tim Kluck says he's never seen anything like this.
"It was a real significant incident," said Kluck.
While first responders worked to help those involved in the crash, Chief Kluck and his Traffic Incident Management Team worked to help those trapped in the aftermath.
"It was very important to get up there, get the traffic slowed down and get it detoured," said Kluck.
The Traffic Incident Management Team, or the "TIM" team, is made up of more than 60 firefighters. Chief Kluck says they aren't called out often, but when they are it's a serious situation.
"We get way back from the scene, we get the warnings up so people know way in advance before they get into the situation that there is an accident," explained Kluck.
But in 2008, that wasn't the case.
"One of our firefighters was hit by the car on the interstate," explained Kluck.
After that, the "TIM" team was established.
"We had a near miss, one of our guys was hit and injured significantly," said Kluck. "We never wanted that to happen again."
So, partnering with the state, every Plover firefighter was trained in traffic management. That's something Marathon County Sheriff's officers say potentially saved lives Tuesday.
"The ability to get people off the highway as fast as we did, to get traffic detoured and rerouted, the assistance from multiple agencies, not only in Marathon County but in Portage County, made this a very efficient,and the ability to clear the highway so that people weren't stranded," said Chief Deputy Billeb.
"We know, if we needed them, they'd be there too," said Kluck.
Right now, many central Wisconsin counties do not have a Traffic Incident Management team, but Marathon County officials say they're looking into it.