The Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program in the TxDOT El Paso District will assist first responders and stranded motorists at least two more years.
The El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) approved to provide federal funding for the program an additional year making the program active until 2023.
The HERO program launched in the El Paso District June 15, 2020. The program, aimed at improving safety for motorists and first responders, consists of specially trained staff and a fleet of patrol vehicles that assist on El Paso County’s three major highways: I-10 from Transmountain Rd. (MM6) to Horizon Blvd. (MM38); Loop 375 from I-10 West (RM11) to Santa Fe Street (RM60) and US 54 from McCombs (RM34) to Loop 375 (RM20).
Since the HERO program started, TxDOT has been able to assist first responders and stranded motorists three times as much. Before the HERO program started, there was an average of 600 reported incidents per month on the selected sections where El Paso Police and TxDOT maintenance forces would assist/respond. After the HERO program started, that average increased to 1,900 incidents reported per month.
Each shift consists of five trucks and one tow truck. The program operates Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Crews provide the following services at no cost:
- Emergency temporary traffic control at incidents
- Clearing of light debris from incidents
- Assist law enforcement move minor non-injury incidents off the highway to reduce secondary crashes
- Remove stranded or abandoned vehicle from travel lanes and/or shoulders
- Change flat tires, add air to low tires
- Provide gas, diesel, water
- Battery jump start
- Minor vehicle repairs
- Cell phone service, drinking water to stranded motorists
From June 2020-June 2021, 60% of all incidents HEROs responded to were disabled vehicles and abandoned vehicles; HEROs protected the scene for first responders and all other incidents 21,000 times; changed a tire or gave air to stranded motorist 1,300 times; provided fuel 531 times, and units towed or relocated vehicles in dangerous areas to a safe location 406 times and 757 times respectively.
Motorists in need of assistance can call 915-790-HERO (4376). The program has its own dispatchers and receive additional vigilance from the TxDOT team at the TransVista Center, who keep watch via the District’s camera system.