Georgia DOT announced temporary modifications to its Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program’s active patrol schedule.
By July 1, 2023, HERO will temporarily pause its active patrol efforts on metro Atlanta interstates during the overnight hours. HERO units will continue to actively patrol during daytime and evening hours when traffic volumes are the highest and when approximately 91 percent of incidents typically occur.
New active patrol schedule effective by July 1:
- Monday-Friday 5 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
- Saturday-Sunday 6 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
During overnight hours, HERO units will not be on active patrol; however, a contingent of operators will remain on call to respond to high-level incidents when law enforcement or other first responders require additional assistance for emergency response and/or traffic management. Those hours are:
- Monday-Friday 11:30 p.m. – 5 a.m.
- Saturday-Sunday 11:30 p.m. – 6 a.m.
These temporary modifications will allow for an increased number of HERO units on the road during the modified hours of service, which is projected to improve HERO response times. The changes are being made as a result of recent workforce challenges which have led to an overall decrease in the number of HERO operators. After thoughtful analysis Georgia DOT has determined that the existing number of operators is too low to maintain 24-hour active patrols along the current 382-mile coverage area. Georgia DOT continues to aggressively recruit and train new operators with the goal of relaunching 24-hour active HERO patrols in 2024.
Georgia DOT launched the HERO program in 1994. HERO patrols were expanded to 24-hours
As always, 511GA operators remain available to assist motorists 24/7 for those reporting incidents or requiring assistance on the roads, and in contacting first responder agencies to be dispatched to incidents. Motorists in need of assistance or reporting an incident should simply dial 511, using a mobile device hands-free in accordance with Georgia law.
In addition to the temporary schedule modification, the HERO coverage area will also be temporarily modified. To ensure no segment of patrolled interstate is without coverage during specific hours of each day, Georgia DOT will temporarily adjust its Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance (CHAMP) routes to supplement HERO service on 135 miles of HERO-monitored routes. CHAMP is a separate but similar program which patrols and responds to needs on interstate highways outside of metro Atlanta. CHAMP actively patrols those routes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
“To provide the most effective emergency response and traffic management within the metro Atlanta area, it’s become necessary to make these temporary modifications to the HERO active patrol schedule and coverage,” said State Traffic Engineer Alan Davis. “This decision will give our team the time to rebuild the HERO ranks while ensuring better coverage, improving incident response and lowering the chances of existing HERO burnout.”
HEROs patrol metro Atlanta interstates working in conjunction with first responders such as local law enforcement, Georgia State Patrol, and emergency medical personnel, while also providing complimentary motorist assistance services such as changing a tire, providing some fuel, or jumping a dead battery. HEROs are dispatched with the primary duty of ensuring the safety of stranded motorists and first responders and to clear roads so that traffic flow is restored.
Safety is Georgia DOT’s #1 priority. The job of a HERO is both demanding and rewarding – and Georgia needs HEROs. The department is actively engaged in numerous recruiting efforts to employ 60 or more dedicated HERO personnel. Do you hear the call of public service as a HERO trainee? Visit HERO Trainee | GDOT Employment (arcgis.com).