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The Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART) Emergency Patrols operate in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), and the Maryland State Police (MSP). The emergency patrols also assist all allied law enforcement agencies and fire/rescue departments in the State of Maryland.
Although most citizens associate the with motorist assistance, the primary function of the CHART Emergency Patrol is Traffic Incident Management. CHART, through best nationally recognized practices, supports the National Unified Goal by enhancing responder safety, coordinating the quick clearance of Maryland’s travel lanes, improving interagency communications and reducing secondary crashes, all in an effort to keep motorists safer and to keep Maryland moving forward on our roadways.
Emergency Traffic Patrols (ETP) have been helping stranded motorists and assisting police at incidents along Maryland’s interstates and highways since the 1980s. As traffic congestion and delays along US 50 to and from the Eastern Shore area stretched for miles and miles, MDOT SHA began a partnership with the Maryland State Police and opened the first Traffic Operations Center in Maryland – the Eastern Shore Traffic Operations (ESTO) Center, also known as Reach the Beach. The goal was to detect and respond to incidents that added to the already massive delays along US 50 between the Annapolis area and Ocean City.
MDOT SHA Emergency Patrols operate 24/7 in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area and from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Western Region (Washington and Frederick Counties, and western Carroll and Howard Counties). Emergency Response Technicians (ERTs) are on call to assist managing incidents any time. CHART operates 43 emergency patrol vehicles covering more than 2,000 lane miles of Maryland highways. Although they have assigned patrol routes, the ERTs are available to assist with traffic incidents anywhere they are needed in the State.
Map of sections of Maryland covered by CHART emergency patrols.
Whether directing traffic at a crash or other incident, or changing a flat tire for a motorist, or giving directions to someone who is lost, CHART emergency response technicians have a dangerous job performing these tasks in such close proximity to traffic. But it is very rewarding to know that these actions help to keep Maryland drivers moving forward.
There are three types of Emergency Patrol vehicles: heavy-duty utility body trucks, tow trucks, and Custom Response Vehicles (CRVs). All are 4-wheel drive. Although each truck carries similar equipment, such as vehicle relocation equipment, chainsaws, debris clearing equipment and a multitude of warning devices, each type of vehicle has its own mission. For example, all of the trucks have arrow boards; CRVs have a programmable message board that can provide specific directions to motorists. CRVs are also equipped with a generator and floodlights that are often requested to assist with crash investigations at night. All of the trucks are registered emergency vehicles and are equipped with the appropriate red flashing lights and sirens to get through slowed or stopped traffic.
ERTs remain the heart and soul of the CHART program:
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